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Three years before he declared his run for the presidency, Donald Trump had his eyes set on another radically ambitious personal venture – the developement of an 800-acre studio in Hampstead, Florida, which “would have been the largest film and TV production campus in America,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The publication details how Trump came to the idea of constructing the studio in April 2012, through his friend Joe Martinez, “a former cop and background actor… who happened to be running for mayor of Miami.” Martinez proposed that Trump help him revisit an abandoned 10-year-old plan to convert an airplane hangar in Florida into a small film studio.
Trump agreed to look into it – under his own conditions.
“But Trump, being Trump, thought Martinez should think bigger,” THR writes. “Instead of merely turning an old airplane hangar into a rinky-dink studio, Trump envisioned an entire studio city, built on 800 acres of undeveloped, government-owned land in Homestead – a rural, economically depressed part of Miami-Dade that still was recovering from Hurricane Andrew two decades earlier.”
Trump then contracted New York architect John Fotiadis to develop renderings for the enormous Trump World Studios campus, which would have included “15 backlots, multiple sound studios ranging in size from 25,000 to 250,000 square feet (for a total of 1 million square feet of indoor space,) and even a housing complex for employees.” (Fotiadis’s studio blueprints can be seen in the THR article.)
As their plans started to come closer to fruition in the following months, however, Trump and his contractors then hit a series of road blocks. His team reportedly had trouble acquiring the contiguous land necessary to build the whole campus, as some properties were already purchased by other entities or already in use by the US government.
Despite recieving a particularly memorable bit of assurance from director Michael Bay – “He told me he could have shot ‘Transformers’ [at Trump World Studios] if it were available,” Martinez said – the barriers to progress soon became unassailable. Martinez lost his run for mayor of Miami to a candidate who openly opposed Trump World Studios, and the studio’s proposed location happened to be next to a US Air Force Reserve base, where the taking off of military jets would have made for less-than-ideal filming conditions.
“I actually said, ‘Can you move the Air Force base?'” Trump admitted, according to THR.
But by November 2012, the Air Force still held its ground, and Trump’s lofty project “was officially dead.”