Empire State Development (ESD) announced that New York-based production studio Broadway Stages plans to purchase the former Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island for $7 million and invest at least $20 million to transform the site into a film, television and music production facility. The company plans to construct five new sound stages totaling 100,000 square feet while creating 800 jobs over the next two years, and as many as 1,500 jobs in the next five years.
“For a long time, New York’s economic development strategy included keeping empty prisons open as job factories at the expense of taxpayers, but those days are over,” said Empire State Development president, CEO and commissioner Kenneth Adams. “In the last three years, the State has closed nine prisons, allowing us to cut taxes, reduce spending and create new economic opportunities in the local communities. Now, we are turning one of those prisons – the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility – into a true job factory, redeveloping the site into a state-of-the-art production studio that will create up to 1,500 jobs for New Yorkers. The Broadway Stages plan is an investment of at least $20 million that will further grow New York’s booming film industry and strengthen our state’s position as a top location for entertainment production.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the closure of seven New York State prisons in June 2011, including Arthur Kill CF, which closed on Dec. 1, 2011. Since 1999, New York’s prison population has declined by 26 percent, from a high of 72,649 offenders incarcerated 14 years ago to approximately 54,000 today. The continuing downward trend of the state’s prison population is largely attributed to the simultaneous drop in crime across the state.
Last May, ESD issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the acquisition and redevelopment of the facility – an approximately 69-acre site with 43 buildings along the waterfront of Staten Island’s West Shore. Respondents were invited to submit proposals for reuse and redevelopment of the site in ways that create jobs and stimulate economic activity on the West Shore of Staten Island, while also providing a return to the State.
“Thanks to the support of the Governor and his administration, the film industry is booming and studios like ours are excited about investing and bringing new jobs to New York State,” said Gina Argento, president of Broadway Stages. “We are looking forward to expanding on Staten Island and transforming Arthur Kill into a world-class production facility.”
The company plans to work with IATSE Local 52 for new union members and to work with IATSE to promote new apprenticeship programs to Staten Island residents through on-site training programs.
“The plan announced today by the State and Broadway Stages will transform a former correctional facility into an economic engine for Staten Island and generate new film and television production jobs,” said John Ford, president, International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 52. “Thanks to the support of the State, the film and television industries are booming here in New York with a record number of productions shooting across the state last year. The expansion of Broadway Stages’ facilities will attract even more productions, bringing with them new jobs and millions in economic activity.”
Broadway Stages currently operates facilities in Brooklyn and Queens, with 27 stages totaling over 1 million square feet. The company provided facilities and services to 13 of the 23 pilots that were filmed in New York City in 2012.
The plan remains subject to contractual negotiations and regulatory approval.