Sets Stage For Studio Expansion
Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Carolyn Maloney announced that the National Park Service (NPS) has approved New York City’s application for a 99-year lease term extension for Kaufman Astoria Studios under the Historic Surplus Property Program.
Kaufman Astoria Studios was designated a National Historic District in 1978. Earlier in October, Schumer and Maloney asked NPS to approve this application because it would allow the studios to expand its business and provide long term investments in the New York City area.
With the announcement of a new 99-year lease term, Kaufman Astoria Studios’ lease will now expire in 2099. According to Schumer, extending the lease by 50 years will allow for the studio to plan better for the long term and make it easier to access the capital they need to grow and expand.
“This lease term extension will give Kaufman Astoria Studios the security and predictability it needs to grow, create more jobs and expand its business in Queens,” said Schumer. “This studio is full of history and with New York City’s growing film industry, I am pleased that the National Park Service has said ‘lights, camera, action’ for this new extended lease. I am certain that Kaufman Astoria Studios will continue to make great films and add to New York City’s economy until the year 2099.”
“I applaud the decision by the National Parks Service to green-light Kaufman Astoria Studios’ lease extension,” added Maloney. “Extending the lease will allow the Studios to remain a world-class movie-making facility for generations to come. Best of all, the studios will continue generating new jobs in an important industry in New York City, and those jobs will be created right here in Queens.”
Kaufman Astoria Studios was opened by the legendary Adolph Zuckor in 1920. Eventually, the studio became a home for Paramount Pictures, and during the next 20 years, over 120 silent and sound films were produced at the studio.
At the start of World War II, the studio was taken over by the U.S. Signal Corps and became known as the Army Pictorial Center. The build- ing eventually fell into disuse, until a non-profit foundation re-opened the big stage in 1977 for the production of The Wiz.
In 1980, New York City turned to real estate developer George S. Kaufman to renovate, expand and revive this national landmark. Working with many interested organizations, he was able to achieve his vision of a full-service, comprehensive studio capable of handling any type, size and style of production.
Today, Kaufman Astoria Studios is the location for major motion pictures, independent films, television shows and commercials. Kaufman’s stages have been graced by stars such as Bill Cosby, Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Demi Moore and the cast of Sesame Street.
New York City’s TV and film industry is booming. According to the New York Daily News, 188 films and a record 23 primetime TV shows were shot in New York City in 2011. Kaufman Astoria Studios already spent $23 million on a new indoor film and TV studio in 2010. Recently, Schumer secured NPS approval for Kaufman Astoria Studios’ planned outdoor lot expansion.
Another major movie studio in New York, Steiner Studios, recently announced that it would be adding five soundstages, at 45,000 square feet, to its facilities at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Earlier in October, Schumer and Maloney called on NPS to approve NYC’s application at the Kaufman Astoria Studios site for a 99-year lease term extension under the Historic Surplus Property Program. The site had only a 49-year lease term that expired in 2049. The studio wanted an extended lease so that they could appropriately plan for the future. A longer term lease also allows them more access to capital.