Although Utopia Studios’ plan to build on the former Norwich Hospital site (above) has stalled, a second movie studio proposal is being considered in North Stonington.

Just think of southeastern Connecticut as the new Hollywood. Or maybe the next Toronto.

The area could soon be a Mecca for actors, directors and film producers after a second movie-related proposal last week. Richard Schulenberg, director of performing arts at North Stonington Studios, has made public his plans to build film production studios, theaters, a performing arts school and retail establishments in North Stonington, according to the Associated Press.

Another proposal for movie studios has been on the table in nearby Preston for more than a year. Utopia Studios, which also would include a Universal Studios-type theme park, was negotiating with the town to build the studios and park on a 470-acre piece of land once used for Norwich Hospital, a state mental health hospital located primarily in Preston and partially in Norwich. But when the town asked for more information on the $1.6 billion project and did not get it, it allowed the memorandum of understanding with the group to expire in August.

North Stonington Studios would not include a theme park, so Utopia would not be a competitor, Schulenberg told the AP.

“We’re not talking about roller coasters and fun rides and a carny-type operation,” he said. “We’re really talking about a multimedia complex that will be aimed in entertainment, arts and science.”

Despite the fact that plans for North Stonington Studios are still in the early stages, residents of the town have high hopes for their project, which would be on 495 acres of land near Route 49 and Interstate 95.

“Most people I’ve talked to are thrilled with the idea,” said Melinda Carlisle, a Realtor with Randall Realtors in Stonington.

The film studios would bring a much-needed tax base to the area. North Stonington does not get tax money from the nearby casinos, so the film studio would help defer the rising costs of running the town.

“North Stonington has been looking for some diversification,” said Jeanne Fellows, sales manager at William Raveis Real Estate in Mystic. “I think it would be a boon to the area.”

The uses of the development and its location probably mean it will not have a horrendous impact on Interstate 95, which probably already handles more traffic than it should, Carlisle said. And the idea seems geared toward a more higher-end clientele, unlike some previous proposals like a theme park.

“I think the notion is that it’s sophisticated, [that] it’s about education,” Carlisle said.

According to the AP, an academy of the arts – which would include student housing – would be linked to the studios. Students would have access to film industry experts, equipment and hands-on experience opportunities, Schulenberg told the AP. The academy would be operated privately, and North Stonington Studios would not seek tax-exempt status.

The project likely would bring more people to the area, which would benefit the local real estate market. Although the project is very early in the approvals process, if it is approved, people would likely come from outside areas, probably for both permanent and temporary jobs, Carlisle said. Temporary workers could increase the demand for rental housing in the area, but some workers likely would stay permanently.

“I would think some people will be buying in, and becoming part of, the community,” Carlisle said.

Even a handful of new people in the area would help the real estate industry because inventory has been building lately, Fellows said.

The organizers of the plan, which has been in the works for two years, believe the location between New York and Boston would make it a success.

“Finding a location that’s halfway between Boston and New York seems an ideal place to pick up Broadway shows on out-of-town tryouts,” Schulenberg told the AP.

North Stonington also is attractive because of “the sheer number of people within a drivable range for day trips or saying, ‘Let’s go up there for a weekend,'” he said.

North Stonington Studios has signed a purchase option with the owners of the land, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. North Stonington’s Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to consider the application on Dec. 8.

The plan includes construction of film and television production studios that would be rented to producers such as local and independent producers and others who work for major studios, Schulenberg told the AP.

A center for the performing arts would include three theaters, which combined would seat a total of 2,700 people. The plan also proposes hotels and gourmet restaurants, and the complex would include tours and exhibits mixing education and entertainment.

First Selectman Nicholas H. Mullane II told the AP that the North Stonington Studios plan would have a minimum impact on town traffic and resources, unlike previous large-scale proposals in North Stonington such as a Six Flags theme park and a 140,000-seat racetrack, which were widely opposed.

“North Stonington is and always has been very concerned about those type of developments that have an extreme amount of traffic and a large amount of transient-type people. This does not appear to be that type,” he said. “The maximum attendance is on a very small level.”