Brooklyn studio town

$160 mil prod'n facility to be cutting-edge

NEW YORK — A group that includes Wall Street house J.P. Morgan and real estate developer La Salle Partners on Thurs-day announced plans to build a $160 million film and television production facility in Brooklyn.

The project, known as New York Studios, has signed a 70-year lease with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp.

New York Studios is assembling financing for a fully enclosed 700,000-sq.-ft. facility that developers boast will be the most modern backlot outside Hollywood.

In addition to J.P. Morgan and La Salle Partners, other co-founding equity partners in New York Studios include film and TV design firm Delphi Studios, financial advisers Harbison Co. and Progressive Internet Alternatives, whose clients have included AT&T and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

New York Studios CEO Louis Madigan, who is also the head of Progressive Internet Alternatives, told Daily Variety he is in advanced negotiations with a major West Coast studio to sign a long-term lease at the Brooklyn backlot.

New York Studios’ blueprint calls for 11 state-of-the-art soundstages covering 240,000 square feet, including a 48,000-sq.-ft. stage, the largest in North America.

‘Exceed wildest dreams’

“We went to the major film and television studios in Hollywood asking producers and facility operators what they would need to mount their productions start-to-finish in New York,” said Madigan. “We designed New York Studios to exceed their wildest dreams.”

Madigan’s Internet experience is visible in plans for a “smart” studio that will give producers and production managers access to equipment and services by swiping an ATM-style card.

New York Studios is the second major production facility to be announced in the metro area in less than a year. Indie production company the Shooting Gallery is trying to build a studio backlot in Harrison, N.J.

Both the New York Studios and Shooting Gallery initiatives are designed to alleviate the shortage of soundstages in the greater New York area. While Hollywood has more than 3.6 million square feet of soundstages, New York has less than 300,000 square feet.

Most of the stages at Silvercup Studios and Kaufman-Astoria Studios in Queens and at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan are tied up through long-term leases.

Room for more

Although Gotham TV and film production reached a record $2.37 billion in 1997, city and state officials believe the level could be higher if New York had more production space. Many films that have recently lensed in New York have used former National Guard armories as makeshift soundstages.

Even if the Shooting Gallery and New York Studios each succeeds in raising financing and attracting tenants, New York’s production community could support both, according to government officials. “One of these projects does not preclude the other,” said Patricia Reed Scott, the Mayor’s Commissioner for Film, Theater and Broadcasting.