Plymouth Rock studio executives optimistic they’ll get new financing

Fred Hanson

Despite the uncertain finances of a former backer of the proposed Plymouth Rock Studios complex, town officials and studio representatives remain optimistic that the  project will be built.

"I do believe we’ll continue down a path, have success, and build a studio,'' Joseph DiLorenzo, the project’s president and chief executive officer, said Sunday.

The studio announced last week that it was severing a financial agreement with Orlando-based Prosperity International LLC, which in September had agreed to put up $550 million in construction financing for the project.

The studio said it cut ties with Prosperity because it failed to provide documentation showing it could provide financing throughout the 28-month project.

Prosperity is being run from a rented house near Disney World by Michael Burgess, who declared personal bankruptcy in 1995, according to a Boston Globe report, which also  says the company overstated the projects it was involved in.

In the story, the Globe says the studio project is millions of dollars in debt, and that studio managing partner David Kirkpatrick himself filed for bankruptcy in 2005.

DiLorenzo declined to  comment on the report but said studio  executives  are working to secure new financing. They hope to have a new financing plan in place in 60 days.

Prosperity officials did not return a call left at their Florida office Sunday.

DiLorenzo said studio executives did perform a background check on Prosperity.

"We worked with these people for five months, but there wasn’t much info out there about Prosperity,'' he said.

DiLorenzo declined further comment, citing a non-disclosure agreement with Burgess.

Plymouth Selectmen Chairman Richard Quintal said he plans to meet with studio officials.

"All I know is they are trying to get financing. Where they get it is not up to me,'' Quintal said. "They said they were continuing with one or two other firms.''

Planning board Chairman Marc Garrett said the lack of financing "appears to me to be a setback, but I would hope that anyone sophisticated in business would have a backup plan.''

Garrett said his board has jurisdiction over site plans for the buildings in the project, to determine if they conform to town zoning and Plymouth’s master plan.

He said the movie studio is "a very exciting development for this town. We’re not a small, sleepy town anymore.''

Meanwhile, plans to build a movie studio complex as part of the  SouthField redevelopment of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station are moving forward.

Bill Ryan, a spokesman for LNR Property Corp., which is developing the  SouthField complex, said LNR still hopes to break ground for the studio next year.

"It’s moving forward,'' Ryan said. "We’re making an intense effort to identify tenants.''

He declined to comment on the financing problems with the Plymouth complex.

"We wish them every success,'' he said.

Fred Hanson may be reached at fhanson@ledger.com.