George Kaufman, who helped reopen and revitalize film studios in Astoria, dies at 89

George Kaufman
Photo courtesy of the Kaufman Organization

George Kaufman, the real estate developer who helped inject new life into the Astoria Studios that now bear his name, died on Feb. 20, less than a month shy of his 90th birthday.

Kaufman served as chairman of the Kaufman Organization and Kaufman Astoria Studios, one of the city’s biggest media and entertainment hubs. The studios had been closed for a decade before Kaufman reopened them and began reviving production there.

The studios became the foundation of the Kaufman Arts District, the first district of its kind in Queens, and the hub of a new neighborhood straddling the Astoria/Long Island City border.

“George was so much more than a real estate developer. He understood deep in his bones the importance of investing in New York’s communities because they are the very foundation of the city’s greatness,” said Hal Rosenbluth, president and CEO of Kaufman Astoria Studios, and one of Kaufman’s long-time friends. “He was a visionary who saw the promise of film and television production work in New York long before it became an integral part of the city’s economy.”

As chair of the Kaufman Organization, he grew the three-generation, family-owned and operated real estate company into one of the city’s biggest independent real estate companies. He worked to achieve sustainable growth in each neighborhood where his properties were located.

Outside of industry, Kaufman was an active member of the Real Estate Board of New York and served on the boards of numerous civic and philanthropic organizations. They include The Whitney Museum, the Fashion Institute of Technology, Exploring the Arts and the Museum of the Moving Image, also located in the Kaufman Arts District. He was also the founding chairman of the Fashion Center BID.

A veteran of the Korean War, Kaufman earned his undergraduate degree from Ohio State University and his master’s degree from New York University. He resided in New York with his wife, Mariana. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter Cynthia.

Services will take place on Monday, Feb. 26, at 11:30 a.m. at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.

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