A new use has been found for the site of the old St. Marys Airport.

Pigmental Studios signed an agreement last fall to purchase a 67-acre tract at what is now called St. Marys Commerce Park.

Now, the studio that has produced animation hits such as “Despicable Me” and “Household Pests” has announced plans for a $200 million studio complex at the site near downtown St. Marys.

Plans include a film campus with many buildings for an animation studio and support services.

In a phone interview with The News Monday, James Coughlin, executive director of the Camden County Joint Development Authority, said studio officials are currently seeking permits to begin construction.

“They’re in the process of getting the planned development text and preparing the zoning application,” he said. “They hope to start building in two months.”

Plans include 18 sound stages, meeting rooms, a dining area and other support facilities.

The runway where airplanes landed and took off will become the main road running through the facility. Coughlin said the runway was a selling point for the studio. Work is ongoing to extend the runway to attach to other public roads. Water and sewer is also being added to the site.

“It’s really moving pretty rapidly,” Coughlin said.

The company will produce animated films and games, as well as taking children’s books and turning them into animated features.

The studio wanted a location in Coastal Georgia to take advantage of the state’s generous incentives to attract moviemakers to Georgia. Coughlin said the studio was also looking for a location for water-related productions.

The location near airports in Jacksonville, Fla., and Glynn County, as well as close proximity to Interstate 95, were also selling points.

The site became available when the municipal airport permanently closed more than five years ago after a 15-year debate about whether it should remain open.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Navy said the St. Marys Airport was a security threat to nearby Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay and wanted it closed.

One of the sticking points to closing the airport was the penalties the city of St. Marys would have to pay for work paid by the Federal Aviation Administration for repairs to the runways and other improvements.

The city has been trying to market the 286-acre site since an agreement was reached to close the airport with no penalties and to retain ownership of the tract.

Article via The Brunswick News