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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, July 2023
WEB Exclusive story

End of Summer to Bring New Beginning in Atlanta

The Assembly Atlanta film studio complex continues to rise at a former GM site.

An American flag waves at the construction site of Assembly Atlanta.
Photo courtesy of Assembly Atlanta

Adriana Acevedo

t seemed like a huge film studio in a place like Hollywood, but it was in my own backyard.

“We want to impact Georgia,” Mayra Garcia, marketing manager and internship program director of Assembly Atlanta, told me when discussing the development of Assembly Atlanta in Doraville, a city located just inside the I-285 perimeter highway on the north end of metro Atlanta. By the end of summer, Georgia will indeed be impacted by the finished construction of Assembly Atlanta’s first phase.

I visited the site in June with Site Selection Associate Editor Alexis Elmore and spoke with Garcia and Sydney Jack, administrative assistant, to learn more about the site’s development.

Assembly Atlanta has more to offer than just a film studio. It is also an experience. As well as providing 22 studios and numerous city facades with offices, Assembly Atlanta will provide the public access to take a stroll in the park, enjoy concerts and events at the amphitheater, and enjoy the view of the ponds.


Construction continues on 3D facades at Assembly Atlanta.

Photo courtesy of Assembly Atlanta

The best part? Everything on site is filmable. Walking around the site past the facades, the public will be transported to locations in Europe and New York City, offering great photo opportunities.

This “passion project,” as Garcia puts it, is for Georgia by Georgia. It involves local businesses such as material supply store Cofer Brothers in nearby Tucker. Assembly Atlanta also has a goal of staging at least one public event every month in the amphitheater where those in the back of the crowd can take in the view from a multi-story, 144-ft. tower. Proximity to I-285 and proximity to the city’s MARTA rail transit station in Doraville will allow easy access for these events and for ongoing production work across the entire complex. (See “The Doraville Explorers” and “Time to Wake Up” for Site Selection’s coverage of the project’s evolution over the past decade.)


Six bungalows will sit along a football-field-sized pond.

Rendering courtesy of Assembly Atlanta

Assembly Atlanta is maximizing space usage on the 135 acres of land. On one side of the football-field-sized pond will lie six 2,500-sq.-ft. bungalows for film producers, actors, directors and crew to relax in. Each bungalow will feature a different theme and decoration, and of course they are all filmable. Assembly Atlanta will also be upholding sustainability protocols. For example, the fountains, in addition to providing a beautiful view and photo op, will be sourced from filtered rainwater, making sure that no resources are wasted.

ampitheaterrenderingAssembly Atlanta’s 5-acre park will include an amphitheater, fountains and a 144-ft. tower.

Rendering courtesy of Assembly Atlanta

From Loss to Gain

The partnered investment among Gray Studios, headquartered in Atlanta, NBCUniversal and the Gipson Company is going to attract many people to the previously desolate site. “When the GM plant closed, it left a huge vacancy in the heart of our city. What had been a thriving job center for 60 years was suddenly just a collection of decaying buildings,” writes Doraville Mayor Joseph Geierman in an email. “In the 15 years since it closed, that loss has resonated with the people who live here.”

The site provided thousands of jobs between its opening in 1947 and its closure in 2008. “For many years the General Motors Doraville location employed over 3,000 hourly employees on the assembly line plus many management personnel.” writes Terry Porter, former Doraville GM plant employee of 30 years.

MayorJosephGeierman“What is meaningful to me is that Gray Television and the Gipson Company saw the underlying value to this site, and invested in it in a way that will make it an even bigger job center than it was.”

Doraville Major Joseph Geierman

Although the plant was closed to cut company costs, Assembly Atlanta (keeping the name Assembly as an homage to the plant) is creating thousands of jobs — both construction and permanent — in its development. “Assembly Atlanta not only created jobs during its construction, but it will serve as a regional jobs hub for the Atlanta area, just as GM did for over 60 years,” writes Doraville City Council Member Andy Yeoman in response to my email query.

Garcia notes that there are already hundreds of workers on site working 24/7 in the different realms of production, which has allowed the project to steamroll forward.


Assembly Atlanta’s facades

Photo courtesy of Assembly Atlanta

“Regarding the state, we are happy to announce that approximately 4,000 jobs will be created with Assembly Atlanta, from film directors and producers, props, grips, actors/actresses and stunt men to the waitresses/waiters and bartenders at the approximately 300,000 sq. ft. of retail space that will also be on the site,” writes Doraville City Council Member Gerald Evans.

“What is meaningful to me is that Gray Television and the Gipson Company saw the underlying value to this site, and invested in it a way that will make it an even bigger job center than it was,” writes Mayor Geierman.



“Creating creative content is a gold rush heading east, and this project further cements Georgia’s status as a premier location for creating film and television.”

Doraville City Council Member Andy Yeoman



Let’s Do the Numbers

As film continues to become a goldmine in Georgia, approximately 2,502 jobs have been associated with new or expanded film studio project sites in the state since 2015, according to the Conway Projects Database. Last August, the Georgia Film Office, part of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), reported that the State of Georgia hosted 412 film and TV productions during the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2022, spending $4.4 billion in the state — a new record. Those numbers spur excitement statewide and in Doraville:

“The Assembly Atlanta project is a transformative development for Doraville, Georgia, and the southeast United States regarding the economic impact and job creation in the entertainment industry,” writes Andy Yeoman. “The progress at Assembly has been amazingly fast!” adds Doraville City Council Member Maria T. Alexander. “After enduring the property sitting undeveloped for approximately a decade, we were extremely excited for the Assembly groundbreaking and the rapid vertical construction. “We are very excited, and our residents are ready to enjoy some of the spaces like the new 5-acre park with amphitheater that will be available for public use once complete,” writes Gerald Evans. “It will be a space of celebrations, concerts and social gatherings alike.”

“I’m grateful to Gray Television, the Gipson Company and NBCUniversal for their investment in Doraville and excited for the future development I believe will come because of their initial contributions,” writes Mayor Geierman.


A rendering of the public point of view at the site.

Rendering courtesy of Assembly Atlanta

Not only will the site attract the public to walk around, enjoying the facades and park, but it will eventually add to the housing that is already expanding in Doraville.

“Doraville has recently experienced an increase in multifamily housing construction. We have not had such a boom in years!” writes Alexander. “Excitement abounds for welcoming these new residents to our city.”

Although the built facades that transport you to Europe and New York may not be real housing, Council Member Gerald Evans adds that “in addition, there will be 100 new apartment homes at the Veranda senior apartment homes dedicated to our 55+ community and those will be tax abated (income-based.) Those new residents will also have quick access to the adjacent Super H-Mart shopping center for shopping and dining as well as the future restaurants to be created at Assembly Atlanta.” The Veranda apartments will be developed on the site by the Integral Group.

Assembly Atlanta will add to Georgia’s booming film scene. “Creating creative content is a gold rush heading east, and this project further cements Georgia’s status as a premier location for creating film and television,” writes Andy Yeoman. Including shows like “Stranger Things” and movies like the “Hunger Games,” film production is very vibrant in the State of Georgia.

Assembly Atlanta will add to the growing numbers of jobs created within the film industry in Georgia and in the United States. Since 2015, Site Selection has recorded in its Conway Projects Database approximately 17,422 jobs created by film studio projects in the United States. Competition is fierce: California recently extended its film production incentive program and New York has expanded its own programs. The Motion Picture Association in January reported that the American film and television industry “supports 2.4 million jobs, pays out $186 billion in total wages and comprises more than 122,000 businesses.”

Nicknamed the Hollywood of the South, Georgia’s attractiveness to the film scene has continued to grow. In the past eight years, according to Site Selection’s database, there have been 184 film studio developments across the United States, with 33 of those sites located in Georgia. With California leading the film studio development competition by having 41 recorded developments, Georgia has had the second highest amount of film studio developments followed by New York with 24.


Graph by Adriana Acevedo based on data from Conway Projects Database

“The film and TV production in Georgia is a great opportunity for our state.” writes Maria T. Alexander. “It not only generates revenues and sales tax dollars, but also serves as a huge employment area, and encourages future generations to pursue careers in the industry.”



Adriana Acevedo is a summer intern at Site Selection about to begin her senior year of high school.

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