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Former state hospital site could be film hot spot

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The city of Rome has negotiated an agreement with the state giving the city 18 months to develop a plan for re-use of the old Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital property in West Rome. A final Memorandum of Understanding is expected to be ready for the City Commission to approve in June. (Doug Walker, RN-T)

Rome and Floyd County officials have been trying to put together some sort of package for the redevelopment of the former Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital property in West Rome for much of the last three years.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Lisa Smith is hopeful that a television mini-series might provide at least some short-term use for the parcel.

“It’s not the first time I’ve shown the Northwest Regional site,” Smith said. The state-run mental hospital closed in 2011.

Smith told Rome Kiwanis Club members Monday that a major network scouting crew has been looking at the site.

Smith told the civic group that 2017 has been designated the Year of the Film in Georgia and said that her staff does some sort of site scouting work for the television or movie industry at least once a week.

Smith said Berry College has been a frequent backdrop for movie or television production.

One of the biggest drawbacks to having production work done in Rome is that is outside of the “zone” in Atlanta that has been designated by the industry union officials. The zone, according to Smith, was established originally for the Los Angeles area so that crews didn’t have to travel long distances in L.A. traffic for production off the major studio grounds.

Virtually all of the production crews would have to make the trip from Atlanta to Rome on a daily basis, or incur the additional expense of nightly hotel stays for scenes shot in Rome. “They have to be really hungry and have a really good budget to film here in Rome,” Smith said.

That said, Smith said she’s never had a film crew that wasn’t ready to come back to Rome for work in the future. “They always fall in love with Rome,” she added.

Rome was the home for production of a television movie pilot Kingmakers in March of 2015 however the networks never picked that up.