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January 23rd, 2002, 12:48 PM
Giuliani Surprises City with $165 Mil in Movie-Studio Projects
By Glen Thompson
Last updated: Jan 22, 2002 *12:09PM
NEW YORK CITY-Ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani went Hollywood in a big way as the final credits rolled on his eight-year administration by inking deals for two major movie-studio development deals during his last week in office. One is a new project located on Staten Island and the other is a $40-million subsidy to revive the stalled studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The Staten Island deal, signed Dec. 31 but revealed only last week, is a plan to build “the world’s second largest sound stage” at the Staten Island Home Port, according to a release issued by project developer Stapleton Studios LLC. City Hall has not released any information on the project.
Stapleton Studios’ initial plans call for the construction of 10 filming stages and support facilities, including a 300 ft by 220 ft sound stage. If the project takes off, the developers say they would add destination attractions including a waterfront promenade with Manhattan views. Stapleton has secured $125 million in financing for the project.
Movie producer Robert E. DiMilia, actor Danny Aiello and Harbour Entertainment Inc’s Marlowe R. Walker are partnering on the development in association with Burlington Capital. “This project will bring 1,500 jobs within three years,” says DiMilia. “It will deliver cost-efficient moviemaking to the New York metropolitan area and it will mean a dramatic resurgence of the Staten Island waterfront.”
Stapleton, the Home Port community, was once a bustling retail and commercial area and home to Piels Beer and the US Public Health Service Hospital, now privately owned. Staten Island also was home to some of the city’s first film studios. More than 100 silent films were shot in South Beach including “Perils of Pauline” in 1914 and “Birth of a Nation” the following year.
A separate agreement, reportedly signed three days earlier on Dec. 28, is said to provide a $40-million subsidy to revive the stalled Brooklyn Navy Yard project shelved by actor Robert DeNiro two years ago. According to published reports, development rights for the project are now in the hands of David Steiner, the father of Giuliani’s Consumer Affairs commissioner, Jane Steiner Hoffman.
Steiner’s earlier efforts to develop studios at the sprawling Navy Yard complex reportedly stalled over a standoff with Con Ed. According to reports, the energy provider is only required to supply power up to the 300-acre site’s property line. The cost of upgrading the electricity to accommodate a major movie studio at the facility is said to be roughly $40 million.
January 10th, 2003, 11:21 AM
Anything new with Stapleton, Aiello, and the city - what a joke. *Why would they try to kill this great project for the city?
Also, any word on the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Studio City NY (West Side) projects?
It's about time the city stepped up and got some more of Hollywood's action. *Besides, this industry basically started in NY anyway!
January 10th, 2003, 01:47 PM
Yes, good news for the New York film industry - bring it here!
BillyblancoNYC, the above article does discuss the Brooklyn Navy Yard (it's been revived), but what have you heard about the Studio City NY project? Is that supposed to happen?
January 10th, 2003, 03:03 PM
Supposedly, there's plans for a 15-20 storey tower in the 40's, I think on 11th ave. *The city is in the midst of evicting a Handsome Carriage horse stable on the spot.
It will be a "vertical" studio with offices above. *Apparently when they sign an anchor office tenant (entertainment, I think), the project is a go.
I dunno, but I assume that since the city is trying to clear the area, the plans must be moving along.
Man, I wish I could find the links for you.
March 20th, 2003, 10:18 AM
More news. From the Village Voice.
New York's Mega-Studio: If We Build It, Will They Come?
by Anthony Kaufman
March 19 - 25, 2003
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Hollywood East may finally be on the horizon. New York's debilitating fiscal crisis notwithstanding, a $150 million 15-acre studio complex is going up in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Steiner Studios, named for the shopping center tycoons who are funding the mega-project out of their own pockets, promises to be in operation next year. Their hope is to * * regenerate a Gotham entertainment business that peaked back in 1998—when 221 films were shot in the city (compared with 180 last year) and the plans for the Brooklyn studio first emerged. But now, while producers, crews, and city officials *agree that New York's film and TV infrastructure seriously needs a face-lift, there are doubts about whether our entertainment sector—already struggling with the flight of productions to cheaper locales—can sustain such an ambitious venture.
It won't be the first time city developers and would-be moguls have attempted to erect a major motion-picture facility in the New York area. The Shooting Gallery's Larry Meistrich, Miramax's Harvey Weinstein, and Tribeca Films' Robert De Niro are among those who've tried and failed to construct Hollywood-style back lots in the boroughs. In addition to Steiner Studios, the mayor's office is also supporting Studio City New York, a $375 million "vertical studio" slated for Eleventh Avenue and 45th Street, which aims to be up and running in the next three years, but for now remains in limbo until an anchor tenant surfaces to provide necessary investments. Staten Island's Stapleton Studios, another grand endeavor, can likely be counted among the corpses: The project now faces a protracted legal battle with the city, which alleges Stapleton's partners do not have the financial resources to pull off the development.
What makes a large studio so important to the city, according to the Economic Development Council's Andrew Stern, is that the revenue-generating Hollywood productions that do come spend only a couple of weeks on the streets and then return to Los Angeles's soundstages—which total 3.5 million square feet compared with New York's 600,000. "What we're trying to do is fill in that gap," he says, "so * * * there's no reason for a movie to leave New York when the location shooting is done."
The Steiner project will also address another of the city's major production weaknesses: a lack of high-ceiling soundstages that can handle a Godzilla or simulated skyscraper. "In L.A., they probably have around 65 stages over 27,000 square feet, and New York has one," says Jay Fine, president and CEO of Steiner Studios. By fall 2004, Fine contends the Brooklyn studio will have five large stages operating, three of which will be among the city's biggest, at heights of 45 feet.
But if Steiner and Studio City move forward, it will be a challenge for them to stay viable, says Hal Rosenbluth, president of Kaufman-Astoria Studios, the Queens-based 14-acre compound that is home to "The Big House," currently the largest soundstage east of Hollywood. "It's not like Field of Dreams—'if you build it, they will come,' " he says. "The facilities are always dependent on someone else—be it Warner Bros. or an independent. All we can do is put up a shingle and say, 'Is there anyone who can use them?' "
New York's new film commissioner, Katherine Oliver, says a self-contained area like Steiner Studios will be just what the city needs to reinvigorate its film and TV industry. "I have spoken to every major studio head, and the consensus is that if there were more spaces, they would bring the work here."
But as long as the West Coast is home to most special effects houses, say industry professionals, Los Angeles will remain a one-stop shop for most multimillion-dollar features. In addition, Canada recently reinstated a lucrative tax break to foreign producers, and other locales, from New Zealand to North Carolina to Eastern Europe, * * * continue to offer competitive rates for Hollywood shoots.
And then, of course, there's the weather, "We don't have weather in L.A.," says Ric Wolfe, Sony Studios' stage manager. "With you, it's cold, snowy, and nasty, and in * * the summer, it's hot and unbelievably humid. The [New York facilities] better buy good air conditioning."
Steiner Studios' Jay Fine claims that everything from office space to lighting equipment and food services will be *located close together on the gated Navy Yard back lot, making weather issues less problematic.
Even so, the city's most reliable production dollars have come from television, not Hollywood blockbusters, argues Rosenbluth. "Features come in for a very short period, but television gives you a much more extended life," Rosenbluth says. Kaufman-Astoria has had running leases for The Cosby Show, Sesame Street, and most recently Mike Nichols's HBO miniseries Angels in America. Long Island City's Silver Cup Studios, currently New York's largest complex, which is also planning additional construction, has enjoyed tenants such as Sex in the City and The Sopranos, whose long-term runs will likely expire soon, fueling worries about a sustained production downturn.
While Rosenbluth says more space is needed (a new $10 million medium-sized soundstage is on tap for Kaufman-Astoria in 2004), he warns, "If you overbuild an * *infrastructure, you will establish a degree of difficulty for everybody on the playing field."
John Penotti, the head of Tribeca-based Greenestreet Films, agrees. "While we always want to increase the amount of production in New York," he says, "there may be a finite amount that the city can handle." Even now, without 50-foot cranes and celebrity trailers blocking off avenues, Commissioner Oliver concedes, "Traffic is a nightmare and parking is an issue." But she says new efforts to organize the city's hosting of film and TV productions—from computerizing the permit process to weekly meetings with government agencies like the MTA and DOT to coordinate logistical concerns—will prevent additional shoots from infringing on New Yorkers' quality of life.
Though community boards have no complaints about the Steiners, the Satmar Hasidic population in nearby Williamsburg raised a stir in 2001 for what they alleged * *were the corrupting influences of Hollywood in their neighborhood. "It's like bringing Times Square into the middle of Amish country," Rabbi Abraham Zimmerman told the AP. But Jay Fine claims Steiner Studios will remain sensitive to the needs of the Satmars, as well as offer training programs and internships for city residents. (Studio City New York's West End plan includes construction of a new gym for the adjacent school, I.S. 51.) Fine also touts the over 1000 skilled jobs that the studio could create next year, if they are operating at full capacity.
According to producer Ted Hope, these jobs are vital to the future of New York's independent film community. "We're like that little bird on the hippo's back; the studios sustain us," he says. "They only way New York is going to be able to cultivate homegrown directorial talent is if the bigger movies are happening. Right now, crews are worrying about how to pay the bills because they've been out of work so long." Hope continues, "When New York is active as a production center, you might start to believe in trickle-down economics."
Kaufman-Astoria's Rosenbluth is confident that New York's entertainment business *will soon see better days, but he still remains skeptical about the new studios. "The reasons that productions come to New York will probably remain the same: The talent is here or the scripts are here," he says. "But whether there will be enough new production to support these new facilities remains to be seen."
March 20th, 2003, 12:33 PM
I've been hoping for this for years. *Hey, why not. *Even if NYC only did some major flicks, it's still #1 for independent movies (which are big right now). *Also, why can't we be #1 for TV and commercials?
AOLTW and Viacom own all the biggies and all the major networks are headquartered here.
It's good for the city, the economy, jobs, new companies supporting the industry, etc.
I hope it all starts to boom, and maybe DeNiro and Miramax will find a new place. *And Stapleton (SI) will get back on track - stil can't believe the city f'ed that up (Paramount was planning on using it for a blockbuster, work was already done, a movie was shot, etc).
March 20th, 2003, 05:27 PM
I find this part most interesting
Economic Development Council's Andrew Stern
(Edited by Gulcrapek at 6:01 pm on Mar. 20, 2003)
March 21st, 2003, 11:56 AM
Sorry... I don't get it?
March 21st, 2003, 05:33 PM
me either... I was unaware of my position.
March 21st, 2003, 07:19 PM
July 21st, 2003, 05:56 AM
July 21, 2003
On Brooklyn Back Lot, Finally, Some Action
By GLENN COLLINS
An artist's rendering of the finished Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a $118 million project, which is scheduled to open in fall 2004 with five soundstages and an office complex.
A studio grows in Brooklyn.
O.K., it doesn't exactly look like one. At the moment, Sound Stage 1 of the new Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard is hard-hat country.
But every day it's looking less and less like the weed-choked, rubble-strewn empty lot that cynics said it would forever be. Who could blame them? The highlight reel of plans for movie-studio projects in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island could have been titled "Gone With the Wind."
But hark, city cinéastes. A 185-foot crane has been hoisting precast concrete sections to form the shell of a new moviemaking megastructure. Certainly the backdrop was appropriate for Hollywood East: the cinematic panorama of the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges and the Empire State Building loomed far across the river in the summer haze.
Lights, camera . . . action? Is the Navy Yard, at last, to become the legendarily elusive Hollywood on the Hudson?
Well, first off, the Navy Yard faces the East River. "And it's maybe more Burbank in Brooklyn," said Jay Fine, president and chief executive of Steiner Studios, citing California's busy television studio mecca. "Hollywood is to Burbank as Manhattan will be to Brooklyn."
Close to four years after the low-profile Steiner Equities Group of Roseland, N.J., vanquished competing suitors Robert De Niro, Miramax Films and Vornado Realty Trust by locking up the Navy Yard studio rights, the $118 million project is toiling toward an opening in the fall of 2004.
Lou Madigan, raised in Brooklyn, won the studio rights with a partner, Cary Hart, who has moved on to other opportunities. Mr. Madigan is now executive vice president of the studio, and to him, the visible construction "is the coolest thing to happen to Brooklyn since the Dodgers won the World Series at Ebbets Field."
Maybe, but until a few weeks ago, when construction became visible above ground, Douglas C. Steiner, president of Steiner Equities Group, was decidedly anti-chicken-counting. "People have been cynical about this," he said. "We wanted to keep a low profile until the walls began going up."
The 800-foot-by-180-foot building is to contain five soundstages in a one-floor studio, attached to a three-story office complex; next door, there is to be parking for 1,000 cars to accommodate television and movie workers. The studio is to have tech-forward production facilities, screening rooms, a fitness center and a commissary. Event space on the roof will be available for parties and promotional galas.
The Steiner Group has a ground lease on its site for 50 years, with a 20-year extension clause; the payout is estimated to be $100 million for the life of the lease.
Mr. Steiner said the first building, 275,000 square feet, would include the largest soundstage in the Northeast, with 27,000 square feet of space, 1,000 square feet larger than Stage E at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens.
A second building, to be built several years from now if the first one is profitable, will have an even larger soundstage and four smaller ones.
Without fanfare, the city has already kicked in $28 million to upgrade waterlines, valves, sewers and electrical conduits because the infrastructure was allowed to deteriorate after major shipbuilding at the Navy Yard moved south in the era of President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The Steiner Group, which is privately held, is paying $90 million for the first building. The company has developed more than 10 million square feet of property in 14 states and owns and manages about half of that. It is backing the studio, Mr. Steiner said, "to establish a beachhead in New York, and because we see it as a good investment."
Despite studios' traditionally skimpy profit margins and high fixed costs, Mr. Steiner said he hoped to make a profit in three to five years. If he can make a go of it, the studio will be one New York answer to the sucking sound of runaway productions: those miscreants whose practice is to shoot exteriors in New York, then return to Los Angeles or jaunt off to Canada and farther-flung locales for interior and post-production studio work.
The Steiner Group is betting that film and television producers will find it cheaper to concentrate all their production in one facility, using not only interior soundstages, but also the streets of New York, in one grand film package.
"We think we'll soak up pent-up demand very quickly," Mr. Fine said. "We can't compete with Toronto for the smaller million-dollar movies, but we believe that large productions, $35 million or more, would find our facility efficient and cost-effective."
He thinks Steiner Studios will have another advantage: "The talent that lives in New York likes to stay here, and they can influence where a film is made."
To economic experts, film and television production is "a kind of light manufacturing," said Harold L. Vogel, of Vogel Capital Management. "It's relatively high-paying skilled work, and that would definitely help New York's economy. It could also help community businesses like caterers, so there would be a multiplier effect."
Furthermore, Mr. Vogel said, in the city, "a substantial amount of existing capacity is being used, and it makes sense to consider putting up another studio." He referred to facilities like Kaufman Astoria Studios in Astoria and Silvercup Studios in Long Island City.
Is the new studio's business plan based on stealing productions from Kaufman and Silvercup? "We didn't start the project thinking we would do that," Mr. Steiner said. "More space could build more business for all."
But like so much in the entertainment business, the studio is a gamble. "The film business goes in cycles of demand, and it is not clear that they are getting in at the right part of the cycle," Mr. Vogel said of Steiner. "I don't see that the level of feature-film production is rising."
Nevertheless, said Katherine Oliver, commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, "studios, networks and producers have told me that they would shoot more here if New York had more diversified space."
The Navy Yard, a gated domain guarded by gray corrugated fences, razor wire and a riot of ginkgo trees, is bordered by Williamsburg, Fort Greene and Vinegar Hill. These days, the sprawling 265-acre campus is — and will continue to be — home to 200 small manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and crafts businesses, including the company that packages Sweet'N Low.
The Navy Yard's bustle is, however, a far cry from its quondam glory, when more than 70,000 people worked there seven days a week. That was during World War II, which, in a way, began and ended at the yard: the battleship Arizona, sunk at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was built there; so was the battleship Missouri, where Japan formally surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945.
The Navy Yard was also the place where the battleship Maine was constructed (making possible the Spanish-American War), and during the Civil War it fitted the Monitor with its famous iron cladding.
Eric J. Deutsch, president and chief executive of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, which manages the property, owned by New York City since the early 1970's, said the yard's 3.5 million square feet of roofed space was 98 percent occupied and brings in revenues of $17 million a year at rents of $6 to $16 per square foot. It attracts 3,500 workers every day.
Three of the Navy Yard's six dry docks are still operational; the oldest, a granite-walled city landmark in perfect condition, where the Monitor once berthed, is currently being used to refit tugboats.
But land there is underused. For the development corporation, the building of the studio "is a dream come true," Mr. Deutsch said. "It's an opportunity for moviemakers to use our large, secure facility. We hope the studios will be an engine for development and will attract peripheral businesses such as set making and lighting supply."
The Navy Yard is no stranger to movie crews. Directors have shot scenes there through the decades in films ranging from "On the Town," which opens and closes at the Navy Yard, to "Mickey Blue Eyes" and and "Donnie Brasco."
Meanwhile, "there is a lot of land here," said Mr. Fine, a former CBS executive vice president once in charge of the network's East Coast production operations. Gesturing to the surrounding Navy Yard, he envisioned a crowded back lot with Hollywood-style exterior movie sets. "They could have built the exteriors for `Gangs of New York' here, instead of in Italy," he said.
Hey, the line forms right on the waterfront, you New York City movie dreamers. Who's ready to sign up for a Steiner Studios safari à la the Universal Studios Tour?
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
July 21st, 2003, 10:32 AM
Thank God. *Bring it on.
July 21st, 2003, 11:27 AM
October 9th, 2003, 09:44 AM
October 1, 2003 Silvercup Studios has signed the world-renowned British architectural firm, Richard Rogers Partnership, to develop the plan for its six and a half acre site on 43rd Avenue and Vernon Boulevard on the East River. The western site will include 8 new studios ranging from 16,000-18,000 square feet each, 1,000 units of housing, a few hundred thousand square feet of office space, a museum, and a few hundred thousand feet of retail office space, including a multiplex.
October 9th, 2003, 11:04 AM
Excellent... true high-density mixed-use development, north of Queens West, and west of the emerging LIC central business district.
Plus, this is a very photogenic location, right next to the Queensboro Bridge. Could be a real signature project with significant benefits to the city!
October 9th, 2003, 09:05 PM
The New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting, Unveils New Location Initiatives For Film & Television Productions (http://www.nyc.gov/html/film/html/news/10_08_new_location_initiatives.shtml)
December 15th, 2003, 05:22 AM
December 15, 2003
On the Set at Navy Yard, It's Hollywood vs. a Blue-Collar Past
By GLENN COLLINS
In running away with Hollywood, is the Brooklyn Navy Yard running away from its proletarian past?
The concrete walls of Steiner Studios, a $118 million project under construction in a cinematic Navy Yard locale on the Brooklyn waterfront, are climbing ever higher and the first of five soundstages is scheduled to open next fall. Its owners hope it will be Hollywood on the harbor.
But some of the Navy Yard's unglamorous current tenants — many engaged in the gritty enterprises that help make New York run — say they are being uprooted to make way for movie glitz.
"I guess my trucks are not Hollywood enough," said Gabriel Meltser, the owner of V.M. Trucking, a tenant at the Navy Yard for nearly a quarter-century. He shook his head at the sight of a row of nine movie trucks, trailers and catering vehicles with license plates from Pennsylvania and Georgia in the spots where his trailer-containers used to be parked, before they were banished.
Now Mr. Meltser's 9 Brooklyn trucks and 12 workers must be gone by March because, he asserts, "they want to clear us out for movie-related businesses."
It certainly seems there is demand for the movie studio, according to Katherine Oliver, commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting. "Los Angeles studio executives say they want more large, flexible, competitive studio space in New York," she said.
And filmmaking could be a wise investment for the city. "New York doesn't have a whole lot of industries that are likely candidates for growth," said Jonathan Bowles, research director of the Center for an Urban Future, a nonprofit urban planning group in Manhattan. Movie facilities — as well as biotechnology and software companies — "are industries that New York is right to be looking at, and grooming for the future."
But film studios need the same commercially zoned spaces that manufacturing, wholesaling and distribution firms do, Mr. Bowles said, "and in these trade-offs, it's really sad that a lot of the old-economy sectors get the short end of the stick."
In a city that has been hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs, the Navy Yard has been an industrial bulwark resisting the evolution to a service and retail economy. And although Mr. Meltser's customers are in New York, spiraling city property values may force him to New Jersey. His employees — mostly minority workers who live nearby and would have trouble commuting that far — will be out of work.
In the neighborhoods around the Navy Yard, and throughout the city as well, old-economy employers are being pushed out by creeping TriBeCafication in Greenpoint, Long Island City, Red Hook, the South Bronx, Sunset Park and Williamsburg, Mr. Bowles said. The jobs they take with them, he said, provide work for the growing number of immigrants who do not have the skills or language to take more upscale jobs.
"The battle lines are being drawn every day in Brooklyn over competing uses for the same space in an out-of-control real estate market," said Joan Bartolomeo, president of the Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation, a private nonprofit group.
When the Navy left the Navy Yard in the early 1970's, the site was taken over by the city as an industrial park. The fenced-in 265-acre complex became a place for truckers, fabricators, builders, theatrical designers and those who warehouse commodities ranging from construction materials to toilet paper.
It is difficult to say how many of the Navy Yard's 220 tenants are now feeling challenged. When telephoned or approached at the Navy Yard, most quickly declined to speak about their landlord, and only a handful agreed to talk.
Those who did — some of them venerable tenants at the Navy Yard — complained angrily, and independently, about doubling rents, a halt in lease renewals, the anxiety of month-to-month lease extensions and harassment in the form of legal actions that small, underfinanced companies can little afford.
"A lot of other people here are very scared," said Mr. Meltser, one of the few tenants willing to speak for the record. "These businesses are their lives. And everyone is trying to save their lives."
Another longtime tenant, the owner of a storage and trucking company, said: "They have given up on my kind of business. They want to bring Manhattan over here." He spoke on the condition that his name not be printed, fearing that "they'll throw me out right now."
A third company in the Navy Yard for more than a decade has put millions of dollars into its dilapidated facility through the years and wants to spend more, "but we can't get an extension of our lease," said the owner.
While the studio has projected that thousands will be employed if its sound stages are fully booked, the owner of another threatened medium-sized business said, "their jobs are just plans and proposals, but we are reality." He contended that new studio jobs would not go to local people but to highly skilled movie workers who live in New Jersey and upstate New York.
Ruben Falkowitz, vice president of I. Gold, a trucking and warehouse company that left the Navy Yard more than a year ago, said: "In the early 70's, when we first moved in, they wanted us to hire as many as we could and fill the Navy Yard up for the city.
"But now," he added, "if you're in their way, they don't care." Mr. Falkowitz said his company was harassed to leave in a legal dispute after a fire in the I. Gold warehouse; Navy Yard management said the company had to leave because it stored hazardous materials in violation of its lease and its insurance coverage.
Eric J. Deutsch, president and chief executive of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, which manages the property, denied that he is trying to evict unsightly tenants. "It's easy to point to the studio as the culprit, but it's not," he said. Mr. Deutsch acknowledged that he was interested in film-related businesses for the Navy Yard, "but we are not clearing out businesses for a movie studio."
He said that "people love it here," and rejected the notion that there was a climate of fear. "With 220 tenants, you're going to have a dozen landlord-tenant disputes going on at one time."
Some tenants on month-to-month leases, Mr. Deutsch said, are on probation because "we're not sure these businesses can make it."
As for the rent increases, he said, "when people have had their leases here for many years, and they renew, then the rent can go way up."
"We are still the home for smaller and industrial businesses, and will continue to be," he said. "That's our core business."
The yard's millions of square feet of roofed space is 98 percent occupied and brings in revenue of $17 million a year at rents of $6 to $16 per square foot, Mr. Deutsch said. It has 3,700 workers. He said he had recently signed new leases with nonfilm-related businesses.
But now, Mr. Deutsch said, the Navy Yard, which is nonprofit, needs "to make money to reinvest in the facility after 35 years of neglect," especially because it faces steep cuts in the city's coming capital budget.
The more venerable tenants in the yard have helped it evolve from an ominous to an optimistic place.
Mr. Meltser, an immigrant from Ukraine who spoke little English when he arrived in New York in 1976, is the embodiment of the American dream. He worked as a taxi driver, saved enough to buy his first truck for $3,500, and began subletting a parking space at the Navy Yard in 1979. By 1986, he had three trucks; the empty Navy Yard begged him and others to take space there.
Though the yard is protected by security gates, "nobody even wanted to come to the neighborhood," he said. "It was a war zone. We heard gunshots every night."
These days, Mr. Meltser, now 55, owns nine trucks; recent yearly revenue has been as high as $1.2 million. Proudly displayed on the office wall is a picture of him with with Gov. George E. Pataki at a fund-raiser.
Ten of the 13 V.M. Trucking employees live in Brooklyn.
"It's hard to find a job around here," said James Isaacs, the company's 52-year-old dispatcher, who has worked for V.M. for eight years and lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant. "If they move to New Jersey, I can't follow them. I'll be out looking."
V.M. has a small second-floor office space, for which it now pays $8.31 per square foot, and it pays extra to park its trucks near the building. The company paid separately to park truck trailers in a nearby lot until they were barred from the Navy Yard.
For more than a year, Mr. Meltser has been involved in a complicated dispute over these rentals, a battle that he calls harassment and that the Navy Yard calls the exercise of its right to license activities on its property.
During the negotiations, Mr. Meltser said, he went to Mr. Deutsch and "I begged him not to put me out on the street." He said Mr. Deutsch's response was, "One business goes, another comes."
Mr. Deutsch said that "I don't know that I put it that directly," and denied that the banishment was related to the movie studio.
"Truck parking provides zero jobs," he said. "The future of New York is in creating more space for industrial development, and there will be more jobs at the Navy Yard in the future, and more industrial space."
In June, security guards blocked V.M. trailers from entering the yard; Mr. Meltser and his 30-year-old son Mark, who is the company's vice president, went to court and won a temporary restraining order until late September, when a judge said the Navy Yard had a right to revoke parking privileges. Ever since, Mr. Meltser has had to find parking for his trailers each night in a patchwork of nonsecure spaces on surrounding streets.
As for the movie vehicles that have replaced the V.M. containers, Mr. Deutsch said, they are temporary occupants until he can construct another building on the site that would welcome even more businesses.
Such a welcome would be good news for Brooklyn's threatened industrial companies, said Mr. Bowles, the urban researcher, because "the single biggest problem for manufacturers in New York City today is the demand for real estate."
The jobs at these small companies "pack a powerful punch, and are very important to the city in revenues and taxes," Mr. Bowles said.
There were 139,800 manufacturing jobs in the five boroughs in 2002, down 56,100 from 1998, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. And according to the bureau, there were 148,300 "wholesale trade" jobs in distribution and warehousing, down 4,900 from 1998.
"Our government officials believe in the inevitability of the demise of manufacturing," Mr. Bowles said, "but the reality is that a lot of the smaller entrepreneurial and immigrant companies want to stay here."
Beyond this, 36 percent of the city's population in 2000 was foreign born, up from 24 percent in 1980.
"Many of these people lack the skills and English proficiency to get jobs in the service and retail sectors," Mr. Bowles said. "The manufacturing and wholesale-trade sectors have long served as an opportunity for this segment of the city's population to enter the work force with relatively well-paying jobs."
In the future, will new-sector jobs continue to grow at the expense of the old economy? "I think we can grow both," Mr. Bowles said. "We can encourage emerging-growth sectors like film, and retain our existing jobs."
To do that, said Ms. Bartolomeo of the Development Corporation, "someone has to step in and be the adult and create a balance."
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
April 29th, 2004, 01:04 AM
Any news on Stapleton, Studio City New York, or the Silvercup Waterfront Project? Why does this all take so damn long?
September 28th, 2004, 07:01 PM
"The Producers" Movie To Be Made At Brooklyn Navy Yard
SEPTEMBER 28TH, 2004
Hollywood is coming to Brooklyn, as plans are in the works to produce a major motion picture adaptation of the Broadway hit “The Producers” at a local movie studio.
The city announced Tuesday that Mel Brooks' new film, "The Producers: The Movie Musical," will be made at Steiner Studios on the site of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The $45 million film version of the 2001 stage musical "The Producers," which in turn was based on the 1968 movie of the same name, will be directed by Susan Stroman.
Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane will reprise their original Broadway roles in the film, which also stars Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell.
The film will get tax breaks set up to lure production back to New York City. Brooks was in negotiations to film the movie in Canada, but says he chose Brooklyn because of the incentives.
“Without the tax benefits, the horrible truth is this movie would probably be made in Kabul or wherever is the cheapest place in the world to shoot the movie, probably in Vancouver or some place like that," said Brooks.
The incentives are part of the state's "Made In New York Incentive Program" launched today by Governor George Pataki. Under the program, productions will be eligible for a 10-percent tax break and marketing credit, as long as 75 percent of the film or television show is made in New York.
The city is working on a similar tax incentive program, but has not yet signed it into law.
“The bottom line is that all those New York City wannabes ain’t never gonna’ be. New York City is gonna’ be New York City for the movie industry in this state," said Pataki.
"The Producers: The Movie Musical" is expected to begin shooting in Brooklyn on February 21st.
September 28th, 2004, 09:02 PM
It's Toronto, Mel. Not Vancouver.
October 4th, 2004, 08:15 PM
Not to correct you, TLOZ, but I've seen Vancouver in the background of scenes supposedly set in New York. And at that point, I usually get distracted from any plot lines and begin to examine the visual background for evidence that offers convincing proof of the actual city: is it Portland's Pearl District? Seattle? Vancouver?!! Ohh, there are many pretenders, but there is only ONE New York.
[except in film.]
January 24th, 2005, 10:56 AM
Tax cuts light up NYC filmmaking
New productions headed here, some firms plan to relocate too; big job gains possible
By Miriam Kreinin Souccar
Published on January 24, 2005
John Penotti had already hired a crew in London and was scouting locations in Dublin for his next movie when he heard that New York City had signed a film tax incentive into law. The next day, he moved his entire $10 million production to New York.
Even though the film, Awake, takes place in New York and Mr. Penotti's production company is based here, European tax rebates had made it nearly 20% cheaper to make the movie overseas. Not so anymore.
"We get to wake up in our own apartments and, even more important, there's not that creative unknown about recreating New York elsewhere," says Mr. Penotti, president of GreeneStreet Films. "We'll be doing a lot more here now, and we won't be the only ones."
Awake, starring Jared Leto, is just one of a growing number of film and television projects coming to New York to take advantage of a 5% city tax incentive, which follows on the heels of a new 10% state rebate.
It's been just three weeks since Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the tax rebate on productions into law, but that, coupled with the state tax credit initiated last fall, has given the city's film industry a major boost.
In the past few weeks, at least three television pilots, including ABC's Pros & Cons, have signed on to shoot in the city. Two major feature films--The Producers and The Departed, a Martin Scorsese movie for Warner Bros. originally slated for Canada--are scheduled to begin production soon. In addition, projects like the new Fox drama Johnny Zero, which aired its second episode Friday night, decided to shoot in New York in anticipation of the tax credit.
Industry executives say the film production boom is just beginning.
"I'm getting at least 25% more calls this month than I was last January about films to start in March and April," says Scott Fleischer, vice president of equipment rental firm Panavision New York. "We're going to see a lot more production in New York."
Until now, the local film industry had been in a free fall. For the last few years, the lion's share of production had moved overseas and to Canada, where government incentives and favorable exchange rates cut costs almost in half. Employment in the city's film industry fell by a third between its peak in 2001 and 2003, bottoming out at 36,000. It recovered only slightly last year, adding about 3,000 jobs.
Other states create incentives
The competition isn't just coming from abroad. Other states, including Louisiana and Florida, have watched the U.S. dollar weaken and begin to erase Canada's competitive advantages, and have jumped in with their own incentives, attracting much of the production. A number of New York camera crews are currently working on movies in New Orleans, industry workers say.
"You can't underestimate how important these incentives are," says Douglas Steiner, chairman of Steiner Studios in Brooklyn. "Studios will rewrite their scripts to be set in places with tax incentives now."
To be sure, New York is still more expensive than many other production centers. It costs roughly $250,000 less to film an episode of a TV series in Toronto versus New York. But because of the city's natural setting for movies and high-quality crews, many producers are willing to pay a small premium to film here. The tax incentives will narrow the gap enough to make it worthwhile for productions to stay here, industry executives say.
The incentives offer a total tax credit of 15% for productions that complete at least 75% of the stage work in New York. In addition, the film commissioner's office is sweetening the deal, taking the unusual step of offering free outdoor media--valued at 1% of the production costs--to advertise a movie or show. Ads for Johnny Zero are already up at bus kiosks citywide.
"This is the first time we've had a significant marketing tool to use to sell New York," says Hal Rosenbluth, president of Kaufman Astoria Studios. "The interest has been extraordinary."
A detective returns, too
The combined city and state incentives have even spurred some movie companies to go so far as to move to New York. Los Angeles-based Media Distributors, the country's largest distributor of equipment, such as film stock and videotape, just announced that it was opening a New York operation because it expected the rebates to bring a lot of production business into the city.
Sonny Grosso, a former New York police detective turned producer, moved to Toronto 20 years ago because it was much cheaper and easier to make TV shows and movies there. He even built a 77,000-square-foot studio, where he employs between 100 to 500 people at a given time.
Last week, he signed on to produce his next pilot, a cop drama based on the Oscar-winning film The French Connection, at Silvercup Studios in Queens. The story is actually about the real-life experiences of Mr. Grosso when he was a detective. Production starts in two weeks. If the pilot--currently named NY-70--goes well, Mr. Grosso says, he will move his entire production business to New York.
"To be able to shoot in my own hometown is a big plus for me," Mr. Grosso says. "But it's only possible because of the incentives."
January 24th, 2005, 11:22 AM
TWO THUMBS UP FOR BLOOMIE ON THIS ONE!
January 24th, 2005, 12:35 PM
Hmmm, cut taxes in NYC and a boom quite possibly ensue. Maybe the city and state should remember this formula.
Ah yes, since my home is now 13% more valueable than last year. A tax hike? No way, it just a new assessment.
June 7th, 2005, 11:38 PM
The New York Times
June 8, 2005
Lights, Camera, Brooklyn!
By GLENN COLLINS
Hollywood on the Hudson, it is not.
In truth, the new $118 million Steiner Studios overlooks the East River. But the movie factory's growing presence on the Brooklyn waterfront is starting to produce ripples far beyond that borough.
The 280,000-square-foot studio with its five stages will not even be finished until the winter. But already there is a measure of pride in blasé, forget-about-it Brooklyn, which, despite its rocketing condo prices and feisty, Manhattan-is-Satan esprit, still smarts from being relegated to a laugh line in so many Hollywood movies.
After all, when the movie version of "The Producers: The Movie Musical" started production at Steiner last November, Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell and Mel Brooks traversed local streets - though invisible behind smoked limo glass. And even Brooklynites who would rather be banished to the Bronx than be caught gawking at marquee names were peering over the walls of the studio's home in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Now the cameras are whirring for "Fur," a film about the early life of the photographer Diane Arbus, with Robert Downey Jr. and Nicole Kidman in the lead roles. And since Spike Lee has finally signed a deal to direct "Inside Man" there, Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster will also be toiling in Brooklyn.
Steiner has joined Kaufman Astoria Studios in Astoria and Silvercup Studios in Long Island City and a collection of smaller studio spaces to form the backbone of New York's thriving film and television-production industry, which pumps billions of dollars a year into the city's economy and provides tens of thousands of jobs.
Steiner's arrival comes at a time when the industry has been blessed "with some very happy coincidences," said Harold L. Vogel of Vogel Capital Management, an independent media analyst. Most important, he said, in January the city began an incentive program to induce more film and television producers to shoot in the city. One provision offers a 15 percent city and state tax credit for films that complete 75 percent of their studio work in New York.
"Without the tax benefits, the horrible truth is, this movie would probably be made in Kabul, or you know, wherever it's the cheapest place in the world for us to shoot," said Mr. Brooks, the creator of "The Producers," a hugely successful musical and now a $50 million movie, which was shot entirely in the city.
Steiner has also benefited from a weakened dollar, Mr. Vogel said, which makes it cheaper now to shoot foreign productions in New York. And a strong Canadian dollar could reduce the number of so-called runaway productions, which use New York for exterior scenes, but shoot the bulk of a film more cheaply in Toronto or Vancouver.
"It's amazing to see this up and running, considering that recently it was just dirt," said Douglas C. Steiner, the chairman of Steiner Studios, referring to the weed-choked, rubble-strewn lot that preceded Hollywood East.
Steiner is 90 percent complete. Still under construction are a 100-seat screening room, a 200-seat cafe for workers and visitors (to be named Cafe Isabel, after Mr. Steiner's 9-year-old daughter) and Stage Six, a third-floor special-events space for wrap parties, weddings and bar mitzvahs that can accommodate 500 people. An open-air fourth-floor rooftop space with an enclosed glass pavilion is also planned.
So far, the city's craft unions like what they see. "Steiner has been a home run for us, and it's made New York more competitive," said John R. Ford, president of Local 52 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents more than 2,000 electricians, sound technicians and other craft workers in the New York metropolitan region. "Often, producers with big films had no place to go, and through the years we lost a lot of that type of work."
Steiner also has something that, while unglamorous, is vital to making movies in New York - a 1,000-vehicle parking lot. On peak production days, 500 to 800 vehicles belonging to carpenters, actors, dancers, caterers and technical workers have been parked at Steiner.
But Steiner's early days have not been bump free. There was the day when the new roof leaked. And as the studio's first tenant, the crew of "The Producers" found itself "the beta tester," said Jonathan Sanger, the movie's executive producer.
"It was scary to commit to a new facility, one that was still under construction," he said. "It was a gamble to come here, and when we did, at the beginning of November, we advised them on the things we thought they needed to do." So, dressing rooms were relocated and reconfigured and Mr. Sanger gave a thumbs down to the studio's small makeup rooms "We suggested breaking through walls," he said.
Still, from the start, Mr. Sanger said, he was impressed by Steiner's 35 and 45-feet "grid heights," the space between a stage and the top of a lighting grid, because they made it easier to shoot large dance scenes.
"If our cameras tipped up during a shot, you didn't see the ceiling," he said. "A 45-foot grid - this is a standard that you only see in Hollywood stages." Having the production's studio, office and support space under one roof also saved money, Mr. Sanger said.
In the early days of Steiner's construction, "everyone in town was asking us - 'is it nice?' " said Nick Miller, the construction coordinator who supervised the building of the sets. "We realized we could answer yes."
Film and television production in New York City contributes $5 billion a year to the city's economy, provides work for 100,000 people in the region and benefits 4,000 related businesses, said Katherine Oliver, the commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting. Mr. Steiner said he hoped to establish local work-force training and business-development programs, as well as an internship program with New York City Technical College.
Ernie Rodriquez, the owner of Bear Security Locksmiths, at 24th Street and Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn, said he had already benefited from Steiner's presence. Since October, his 25-year-old business has supplied more than 100 locks, 150 cylinders and thousands of keys to Steiner to supplement its security system.
"It may be glamorous and exciting, but they pay their bills quickly and that makes it even better," Mr. Rodriquez said. Publicly, so far, Kaufman Astoria Studios and Silvercup Studios have reacted cordially to their splashy new competitor, even though Steiner's 27,000-square-foot stage has taken the city crown from Kaufman's "Big House," the 26,000-square-foot Stage E.
Hal G. Rosenbluth, the president of Kaufman, said the advent of Steiner was "an exclamation point to the growth of the industry in New York." It was also a validation, he added. "The investment they made shows that there is someone else as crazy as we are." Mr. Rosenbluth is planning to build another 18,000-foot stage and support structure across the street from the original 300,000-foot studio, where "Sesame Street" is taped.
Stuart Match Suna, the president of Silvercup, home of "The Sopranos," said that "Steiner has helped the industry," though he acknowledged that it will eventually mean more competition for future productions.
Still, he also is planning to add to Silvercup's 18 stages, which occupy more than 400,000 square feet.
Mr. Steiner wants to expand, too. "We aren't done," he said. "We want to build additional stages and support buildings."
The studio hopes to make money in three to five years, Mr. Steiner said, despite studios' traditionally skimpy profit margins and high fixed costs. But the future is still as murky as the nearby Gowanus Canal. "Though Steiner brings something to the city that was needed - large space that is conveniently located - I think it is too early to know how this will work financially," said Mr. Vogel, the entertainment analyst.
Already, though, Steiner has an alumni society. Some of the crew members of "The Producers" are working on the production of "Fur."
"This," said Mr. Rodriquez, the locksmith, "is the biggest thing happening in Brooklyn."
June 8th, 2005, 10:01 AM
Some pictures from the article:
Steiner Studios even has palm trees. Soon, it will have Spike Lee, shooting "Inside Man."
A sound stage at the new Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is the latest addition to the city's studios catering to film and TV producers. "Fur," starring Robert Downey Jr. and Nicole Kidman, is being shot there now.
Steiner Studios has parking spaces for 1,000 vehicles.
June 8th, 2005, 03:07 PM
Thats cool, Bayonne has been doin this for years at the Military Ocean Terminal which is much bigger than the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They do production and shoots on the Sopranos, Oz, those famous Hess truck comercials, the movie Two Weeks Notice, Eternal Beauty of the Spotless Mind, the new blockbuster War of the World which was filimed in Bayonne and Jersey City and takes place in Newark, A Beautiful Mind which was also filmed in JC, they make music videos there, also The Enterpeter was partially produced there and it was also partly filmed at my college Saint Peter's College I saw Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman in my classroom!!!!
Also there actors and actresses hang around here as well. Tom Cruise was seen hangin around Bayonne and Downtown Jersey City. Sean Penn was seen Downtown, so was Sandra Bullock when they were filming two weeks notice. Also Shaq and other sports stars stay at the Hyatt Downtown when they come to play the Nets.
Brooklyn its going to be tough competing with Jersey City and Bayonne together but congrats on this!
Rem 311 JHF
June 8th, 2005, 03:31 PM
Recently over in Brooklyn, They Opened up The Steiner Studios along The Brooklyn Waterfront,1 of The 1st Films that was Scheduled to be Filmed There is The Mel Brooks Broadway Version of "The Producers"!!.
NY Has been Very Busy With Filmmakers and TV Filming over The Past Few Months Ever since Mayor Mike Bloomberg Made The Decision to Give The TV and Film Companies a Special TAX BREAK to allow Them to do Their Filming in The City Instead of The Film Companies having to go Outside of NY and Film Up North in Canada (Which is Supposed to be Much Cheaper and less Costly!!)!!.
Over at SILVERCUP Studios in LIC Queens,2 Upcomming TV Pilots are Being Made there for Television This Fall of 2005,1 of These Pilots is a Police Drama Called "NY-70" Which is Based on The True Life Cases and Exploits of NYPD Detectives Sonny Grosso & Eddie Egan,The 2 Cops who Were Involved In The Breakup of a Multi-Million Heroin Smuggling Case out of Marseilles,France Back in 1961 that Later Became The Basics of The 1971 Oscar Winning film Called "The French Connection",The NY-70 TV Series is Produced by Sonny Grosso(1 of The 2 Former Detectives on That Case) who Brought us The CBS Late Night Cop Show Called "Night Heat" will be The Series Producer and Donnie Wahlberg & Bobby Canavalle Will Star as Dets. Egan and Grosso!!.
Another TV Series That Films Interior Scenes for Their Series at SILVERCUP Also is "The Sopranos"!!.
July 8th, 2005, 04:26 PM
Any news on the Studio City project in West midtown? Nothing been said for a while. Seems like it would do well.
Also, read that Steiner is doing so well (3 projects, about 10 in the pipeline) that they want to expand already and take over some abandoned hospital, or something. This would be great if it happens.
Film (tv, commercials, movies) is a big growth industry for NYC and should be pursued vigorously. The city seems to be doing pretty well.
Now, we just need DeNiro and Weinstein to want to build their studio in the city again and forget Yonkers. Also, Silvercup, let's get moving on that waterfront mega development!
August 23rd, 2006, 03:20 PM
I am sure this Steiner Studios is already finished or almost finished... but I found these renderings... Has anyone seen it? Does it look somewhat like the renderings at all?
They sure have alot of parking space... hopefully one day all that parking will go underground and they can expand their studios on top.
August 23rd, 2006, 03:38 PM
I was out there just recently and it looks pretty much exactly like that.
February 14th, 2007, 12:33 PM
New York Daily News
B'klyn going Hollywood
Blockbuster expansion in script for boro film studio
BY JOTHAM SEDERSTROM
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Brooklyn's largest film studio - host to "Spider-Man 3" and Spike Lee's "Inside Man" - will nearly double in size to better compete with Hollywood, city officials said yesterday.
Steiner Studios, part of New York's so-called Hollywood East, plans to expand its studio space to 600,000 square feet by renovating a seven-story building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The expansion will put the two-year-old studio in the same league as many of its Tinseltown competitors.
"This is a deeply significant step for both the film and TV production industry in New York City as well as the continued development of the Brooklyn Navy Yard," Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff told the Daily News.
Doctoroff said the expansion will add another 550 jobs to the Navy Yard, which already saw the creation of 800 jobs in October through the construction of retail and industrial space.
"We have always had a vision in mind of creating a full-blown media campus to be on par with any of the major lots in Hollywood," said a source close to Steiner Studios.
Since opening, Steiner Studios has lured more than a dozen TV shows and movies to New York, furrowing brows in Hollywood, where movie production dropped 7.5% last year, according to the Entertainment Industry Development Corp.
The expansion will create a 289,000-square-foot Washington Ave. "media campus." The building will house businesses with ties to the movie and TV industries, including stylists and art designers, a source said.
Steiner is the city's second-largest film studio, behind only Silvercup Studios, the production home of "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City," in Long Island City, Queens.
The number of film, TV and video productions in the city surged to an all-time high last year, according to the city Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, in part because of tax incentives to film in the five boroughs.
Originally published on February 14, 2007
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