It seems inevitable that Gateway Studio & Production Services would build a facility in this area. Nearly everyone involved has one degree of separation from St. Louis, according to David Haskell, Gateway’s president of business development and the keynote speaker at the Progress 64 West luncheon on Aug. 26.
Gateway’s CEO Trey Kerr is from St. Louis. So is Ethan Weber, lighting director for the Rolling Stones. And Jesse Sandler, president of Studio Operations, also has a St. Louis connection.
“The primary goal and dream was to bring the music industry back to St. Louis,” Haskell said. “There is a lot of talent here.”
Gateway Studios is proposing to build a 339,000-square-foot facility on a 32-acre campus at 900 Spirit of St. Louis Blvd. to be used as a private, large-scale touring operation for bands like the Rolling Stones and Kenny Chesney. The facility will include office space, four huge studios – one the size of a football field, a staging room and storage areas.
Gateway Studio and Production Services (Source: GMA Architects)
The lobby of the main building will house a museum with paraphernalia from the music business. A secure nightclub to be called B Goode Lanes, in honor of St. Louis native Chuck Berry, will hold live performances on a 60-by-40 stage. A 7,500-square-foot kitchen will also be on-site.
Haskell said Chesterfield stood out as the right home for the project thanks to the infrastructure already in place and the site’s close proximity to stores, restaurants and hotels.
David Haskell, keynote speaker at the Progress 64 West luncheon on Aug. 26 (Source: Cathy Lenny)
He noted that the only other similar-type production studio in the country is Rock Lititz, located in the middle of farmland in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It currently has a 2 ½ year wait list, Haskell said. California’s studios are 150 years old, and New York would have been too cost-prohibitive to build a new production studio.
“This is a big, big commitment – $100 million,” Haskell told the local leaders, both business and political, who had gathered for the luncheon. “There’s not a facility anywhere in the world like this. You can build it from scratch exactly like you want it.”
According to Haskell, the top four individuals running Gateway have 119 years of touring experience. He has more than 40 years of experience as a tour manager, production manager, engineer and producer, working with some of the biggest names in the industry. He previously served as president of Morris Light and Sound and as general manager for the Alabama Theatre.
In addition to Haskell, there’s Kerr, who has more than 20 years of experience as a video director. Andy Gerber, Gateway’s COO, has more than 20 years in television, film touring and live event productions. Sandler has more than 20 years of touring experience.
Although catering to the music touring business, the company also intends to grow its interests in television and film and in hosting events for corporations.
A 5-story, 168-room Spirit Hotel with 32 suites will be open to the public and corporate clients. “It will be akin to a ‘Corporate Disneyland,’” Haskell said. “Guests can arrive at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport and be in a suite (within) minutes.”
Corporations, he said, will be able to hold annual meetings at the facility and keep it all right there on campus.
He expects the economic impact on the region to be huge. The production company, which includes audio, lighting, video and streaming services, is already up and running with 47 employees on board and the studios will hire an additional 118 to 120 people, with an average salary of $78,000 per year, he said.
Gateway plans to do a feasibility impact study to determine the spinoff effect for other businesses like hotels and restaurants. There are also plans to offer extensive training and educational opportunities, including an internship program.
“We want to bring people from St. Louis up, to get people excited about coming to Missouri,” Haskell said.
St. Louis County Council member Mark Harder (R-District 7), who gave the keynote introduction, credits Gateway for creating a new industry that the area does not have today. He noted that Gateway has been working in collaboration with Missouri Partnership, the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, Missouri Department of Economic Development, the city of Chesterfield, and the Spirit of St. Louis Airport, to make this dream come true.
Originally Appeared Here