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New film studios could affect housing prices, study shows 


It’s Friday morning, and outside a Las Cruces home, a film crew calls “action” at a pop-up movie set on a neighborhood street.

Maybe the crew is filming a car chase or a shootout for an action movie. Or perhaps a luckless man who’s done everything wrong professes his love with a boombox, hoping a grand gesture erases 90 minutes of missed cues and near kisses.

It’s a sight Las Cruces could experience more often as officials funnel public funds toward rounding out a budding film industry.

Public investment in 828 Productions – which has been promised over $6 million in incentives to build out a permanent film studio in Las Cruces and hire 100 people – and the Creative Media Technology building – an $11.2 million building at New Mexico State University Arrowhead campus – signal local government’s efforts to grow Las Cruces film.

However, the efforts could have unforeseen consequences on the Las Cruces housing market, particularly in neighborhoods abutting film studios.

A 2022 study by Velma Zahirovic-Herbert, a researcher at the University of Memphis, and Karen Gibler, a researcher at Georgia State University, investigated how film studios affected housing prices in Atlanta, Georgia.

In their paper, “The effect of film production studios on housing prices in Atlanta, the Hollywood of the South,” published in the academic journal Urban Studies, Zahirovic-Herbert and Gibler found that homes near studios tended to sell for higher rates. They also found that those neighborhoods saw more transitions as residents moved away and new people came in.

“(The Atlanta metro area) has a number of large studios, but it also has smaller ones,” Zahirovic-Herbert said in an interview with the Las Cruces Bulletin. “They might have supporting roles, or maybe they did animation.”

Zahirovic-Herbert said all studios increased housing prices, but the larger ones had a greater effect. She also pointed out that many of the Atlanta studios — which typically fit into areas zoned for industrial use — were near neighborhoods targeted for revitalization. She also pointed out that her research depended on relatively new studios studied over a short period.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, left, with Doña Ana Community College President Monica Torres and, at podium, Las Cruces International Film Festival director Ross Marks at a presentation on the film industry in New Mexico in Las Cruces in 2022.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, left, with Doña Ana Community College President Monica Torres and, at podium, Las Cruces International Film Festival …

In Las Cruces, the most significant potential film investment of 828 Productions plans to build a large campus adjacent to the Alameda Depot neighborhood and the neighborhoods adjacent to North Valley Drive and West Picacho Avenue.

George Pearson, Alameda Depot Neighborhood Association, said the association supports the 828 Productions campus moving in.

“We see the benefits of the movie industry in our neighborhood. While not all movie activities are conducted by 828, we know that their presence in Las Cruces attracts and facilitates other production companies to spend money in our neighborhood and Las Cruces,” Pearson said. “Personally, I’ve seen productions happening both across the street and next door to my house.”

Steve Montañez, owner and qualifying broker at New Mexico Properties and a Las Cruces Bulletin contributor, said the growing presence of industrial film production is still not something on his radar. Since the studios – particularly 828 – remain unbuilt, Montañez said that more traditional factors still dominate pricing.

Montañez said the area abutting 828’s future presence, the Alameda Depot Neighborhood, is already a well-performing area.

“Those trees are very mature. Those homes, the characteristics of the homes, there’s larger backyards, they’re built on larger lots, and so there’s still this southwestern charm that that people really love.”

Montañez said he predicts that the long-term effects will be positive for prices.

“I think a studio, especially a big studio, I see the effect being positive,” Montañez said.

Las Cruces, Doña Ana County, real estate, business, film industry