Vornado Realty Trust has lined up partners in both the private and public sector for its plans to redevelop Pier 94 on Manhattan’s West Side as a film and TV studio.
The company announced that Hudson Pacific Properties and Blackstone will back the project, as well as the City of New York, and New York City Economic Development Corporation. Vornado, which has struggled for years to demolish the old pier and to transform it into various different venues such as a giant trade show facility, contributed its long-term leasehold to the venture. In return, it will own 49.9% of the studio. According to a press release announcing the venture, Hudson Pacific will own 25.6% and Blackstone’s institutional Core+ Real Estate strategy will own 24.5%. Vornado will be responsible for developing the property, while Hudson Pacific will provide design oversight and manage the facility’s leasing and operations.
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The project comes as New York has become a major destination for film and television production thanks to its generous tax incentives, and this will be the only studio on the island of Manhattan. Though shooting has slowed substantially due to the writers and actors strikes, when labor disputes aren’t taking place, many producers and media companies are hard-pressed to find space. Pier 94 isn’t the only project in the works. Robert De Niro is among the big-name supporters of the $600 million Wildflower Studios, which is going to be built in Astoria.
Sunset Pier 94 Studios, as it has been dubbed, is being billed as a “first-of-its-kind space” and a “home to both state-of-the-art film and production technology.”
The project’s backers say that the space will include new public restrooms for Hudson River Park, along with a 1,850-square-foot community amenity space, 25,000 square feet of waterfront open space and pier access, and safety improvements to the bikeway. There will also be a program to support workforce development and training programs for the film, television, commercial and other media production industries.
Vornado, Hudson Pacific and Blackstone said they will invest approximately $350 million. They anticipate that the development and construction of the facility will create more than 1,300 construction jobs, 400 permanent jobs and contribute $6.4 billion to the local economy over the next 30 years. Construction will start in the third quarter 2023, with RBC leading $183 million in construction financing. The project is expected to be finished by the end of 2025.
“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,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement.
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