Denham Springs — An Indian film production company on Thursday announced it will be relocating its headquarters to Denham Springs to take advantage of Louisiana’s film tax credit program.
Mahee Productions provides services such as audio mixing, movie effects and background music.
Owner B.J. Joshi, who is from India but has lived in Denham Springs for 16 years, said he planned to offer similar services when the new Louisiana office opens, but recent changes to the state’s film tax credit program have forced him to reconsider the company’s direction. Joshi said he may change tack and focus on movie marketing.
“Our original plan was to locate pre- and post-production as well, but because of the passing and signing of the bill capping the incentives, we are in the process of rethinking our business strategy,” he said in a statement.
“That is strictly a business decision, not a personal one,” he added in a Thursday news conference.
Joshi will have time to consider his options, as the new office building has yet to begin construction.
Officially known as Carlisle Place, and unofficially as the Denham Springs High Rise, the first occupants will be able to move in sometime around August 2016, said real estate agent Joe Moore. The 44,000-square-foot building will be located at the northwest corner of South Range Avenue and Bass Pro Boulevard and will stand four stories, with a fifth-floor penthouse planned to house a theater for Mahee Productions.
The studio has only one film to its credit, though it was one of 17 Indian films to make the Oscar shortlist for best foreign language film. It also was the first Gujarati-language movie to advance that far in the selection process, according to the Times of India.
The film, “Veer Hamirji,” told the story of legendary warrior Hamirji Gohil, who died defending a Hindu temple from Muslim forces in the 15th century.
Joshi said his studio is considering three new scripts for their next project — one from India, one from California and one he simply referred to as “from overseas.” One of the scripts has scenes set in Louisiana, specifically in New Orleans, he continued.
In addition to the production studio, which is expected to hire about 30 employees, the building will have room for offices.
Moore said he is working with retailers and health care providers to find occupants for the ground floor but said deals were still in the works.
During Thursday’s news conference, developers and politicians pointed to Carlisle Place as evidence of the continued growth in Denham Springs south of Interstate 12. Moore said that currently 44,000 cars exit the highway at Range Road every day.
Mayor Gerard Landry said the city has seen eight consecutive years of sales tax growth, and the trend looks likely to continue as new businesses continue to move to the Riverside Landing Economic Development District, where the new building is located.
Developer Jacob Fa-Kouri, who has been involved in projects in the area for years, said Denham Springs has shaken off one of its more disparaging monikers.
“Dinky Springs? You don’t hear that anymore,” he said.
Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.