Astoria divided over proposed studio lot

A western Queens community is divided over plans to build a new studio lot and outdoor movie set in Astoria.

Queens Community Board 1 recently passed Kaufman Astoria Studios’ (KAS) plan to de-map 36th Street from 34th to 35th Avenues and build the movie set by a two-thirds vote. But, a few local businesspeople like Vishnu Ramjoo, an associate at Bravo Supermarket located across the street from the studio, expressed concern.

“We don’t have a parking lot available to our customers, and our business is generated by the input of the community,” he said, adding, “The proposal may gain negative feedback from locals.”

Recently, the popular TV show “Nurse Jackie” spent three days filming at KAS and Ramjoo said his store had a had a slow couple of days.

“They block and close down the street, and when it comes to the business environment it becomes a ripple effect,” he said. “It affects the restaurants too.”

However, other businesses said the studio already provides a boon to their businesses and this expansion would only help them further.

“They send a lot of their clothes here from the studio, it’s good, we get a lot of business,” said a worker at T&J Dry cleaner, which is located across from KAS on 34th Avenue.

Meanwhile, a city Economic Development Corporation (EDC) spokesperson said “we have confidence in the Department of Transportation’s assessment that the surrounding streets will be able to handle the traffic and parking.”

In addition, the EDC said that “an enclosed studio with a back lot will attract more productions to New York, especially with the recent extension of the film production tax credit. A major production could mean between 200 and 400 jobs, not to mention the ancillary economic impact that local business will enjoy.”

Michael Condoleon, a senior at Frank Sinatra High School, said he didn’t think the expansion would have a negative effect on him or his fellow classmates.

“It would also open up more jobs for people, and help local businesses, so maybe it will benefit the community,” he said.

The community board’s approval is the first step in the process, which now goes to Borough President Helen Marshall’s office for review

KAS is hoping to complete public approval by the end of 2011 with construction beginning shortly after that.


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