July 27--John Raulet's journey from real estate to the film industry sounds like a Hollywood tale. Opening scene: commercial buildings in Atlanta sit vacant while storm clouds release a freezing rain. Nothing moves amid the Great Recession.
"My commission stream pretty much completely evaporated," recalled Raulet. "It was frightening,"
The plot twist came when the Georgia Legislature passed tax incentives to lure film projects. Raulet said the state's film-friendly policies not only steered him toward a new career serving the industry, but they also have helped his real estate clients shore up their finances.
At first the tireless networker helped production companies lease space for office, filming, wardrobe storage and other needs.
"I know I've leased at least a million square feet" to various production companies, Raulet said.
Last July, he and his partners, brother Paul Raulet and Tyler Edgarton, closed on a building that would become Mailing Avenue StageWorks, an 85,000 square-foot movie and television production facility in Grant Park.
"Last Vegas," starring Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman and Michael Douglas as four lifelong buddies who reconnect in Vegas, filmed there from the beginning of August through the end of the year.
Now USA's "Necessary Roughness" films there, and Raulet and his partners are in talks with other projects. He keeps a hand in the real estate market and has seen an economic ripple effect from all the filming around town.
In some cases, doing business with Hollywood has helped building owners hang on to their properties.
"I leased a lot of properties where the banks and landlords were talking heavily," he said. He also sees productions patronizing everything from local restaurants and building supply stores to businesses that rent traffic cones when streets close for filming.
"From my perspective I see it is a huge benefit," he said.
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