June 21, 2021 By Christina Santucci
A development team’s plan to build a large film production studio, backed by actor Robert De Niro, received approval from Astoria’s Community Board 1 last week.
Plans call for a $ 400 million complex – called Wildflower Studios – to be built at 35-15 19th Ave., between Steinway & Sons Piano Factory and Luyster Creek, a short creek that branches off the East River to the Astoria summit.
The developers of the project – Wildflower Ltd., De Niro, his son Raphael De Niro (a broker of Douglas Elliman) and Jane Rosenthal – are seeking several permits, approvals and certifications, including those that would waive the height and setback requirements under current site regulations. zoning bylaws.
Members of Community Council 1 voted 35-1 in favor of the project – with one abstention – at the monthly council meeting on Tuesday. The next step in the proposal is a review by the President of the Borough of Queens.
The developers propose to build a 495,000-square-foot, seven-story studio that would include 11 sound stages as well as production support spaces such as carpentry shops, locker rooms and offices.
The development would have a total of 715,000 gross square feet, including parking, according to an environmental assessment statement filed this month.
“We are particularly excited about the potential of this project taking place in New York, which is a city we love and care about very much,” Raphael De Niro told members of the board of directors.
“Especially in light of what we’ve all been through with the pandemic over the past 18 months, we believe the timing couldn’t be better than today,” he continued.
The project would also provide approximately 30,600 square feet of open public space along the Luyster Creek shoreline and an additional 4,200 square feet on 19th Avenue.
The Wildflower team offered to work with the community to create an improvement plan for the devastated area where 19th Avenue abuts Luyster – aka Steinway – Creek and coordinate with city and state agencies and the sanitation department, which moves a garage to a neighboring site.
“We believe that as a team we can make significant improvement down the street,” said Rachel Scall of Greenberg Traurig.
Several members of CB1 have expressed support for the plan, and others have asked about the security and parking plans for the studio.
Developer representatives said the proposal includes 310 parking spaces, and Raphael De Niro said the site will have a network of security cameras as well as hired staff.
“When you talk about a particular studio there is a lot of sensitivities around hacking and some other privacy issues, so it has to be a very secure building for people to feel comfortable filming content. and that will extend to the public waterfront area as well, ”he said.
Raphael De Niro said the project would create a total of around 1,000 new jobs and likely increase business in the neighborhood.
“We expect the studio to have a ripple effect on the community, bringing people to the area to support local restaurants, businesses and the hospitality industry,” he said.
Member Diana Limongi asked if janitorial and security positions would also be union jobs, and Raphael De Niro replied that he was not ready to answer that question during the meeting.
“We haven’t even considered staffing at this point because we don’t know what we’re building yet,” he said. “I think this is a valid concern and question and will deal with it immediately with all of my partners.”
He said, however, that the developers were looking for ways to hire local residents and businesses.