Manhattan is ready for a larger close-up, with plans to open its first major film-and-television production complex.
Of course, filming TV and movies in the Big Apple is nothing new, but a large facility of the scale being planned within the borough of Manhattan will be a first.
The film and TV industry already supports 185,000 jobs, generates $18 billion in wages, and contributes $82 billion in economic output for the city, according to the mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
Vornado Realty Trust, Blackstone and Hudson Pacific Properties are investing $350 million to build a studio campus at Pier 94 off Manhattan’s West Side Highway. The developers aim to complete the project as soon as the end of 2025.
New York City has the second-most production studio space behind Los Angeles, but major sites have been located in the outer boroughs.
Most of New York’s built-for-purpose studios are in the borough of Queens, according to The Wall Street Journal, with more space being added. In 2022, a 775,000 square-foot studio in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria backed by Robert De Niro was approved, and it’s now near completion, according to the Queens Daily Eagle.
“The city has an extensive, well-established production infrastructure yet is highly supply constrained in terms of stages,” said Victor Coleman, chairman and CEO of Hudson Pacific.
The new Sunset Pier 94 Studios will create 1,300 jobs during construction, 400 permanent jobs and $6.4 billion for the local economy over the next 30 years, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
New York provides a host of tax incentives for film producers and editors to bring their work to the state. Its film production tax credit program grants a minimum 30% tax credit on costs related to anything from set construction to casts’ makeup and background talents’ pay. The state has budgeted $700 million a year through 2034 to delve out such credits.
The Pier 94 project has long been in the works, though it wasn’t always going to be a film production complex. City economic development officials selected Vornado to develop a trade show facility on the pier in 2008, but the developer dropped the stalled project to instead focus on building Sunset Pier 94 Studios in May. The project’s details were made public this week, including Vornado’s new partners.
“Our partnership with Blackstone, Hudson Pacific, and the City of New York will solidify New York as a leading market for content production and studio space, create jobs, drive economic momentum, and deliver a host of amenities to the surrounding community,” said Vornado Chief Financial Officer Michael Franco.
Vornado will own 49.9% of the venture and oversee development, while Hudson Pacific will hold 25.6% and manage operations. Blackstone will own 24.5%. The 266,000 square-foot Sunset Pier 94 Studios will include sixe soundstages, control room facilities, production support space and offices as well as onsite parking. The property will feature 25,000 square feet of public space and pier access.
“This project will bring critical, long-awaited investment to this public asset, turn an underutilized space into an economic driver, and improve public space and quality of life for New Yorkers,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams.