The city has given the green light to Wildflower Studios to begin construction of its massive, state-of-the-art, $600 million film production facility that will rise next to the Steinway Piano company along Luyster Creek in Astoria.
The Robert De Niro-helmed project received its final permit from the Department of Buildings on Jan. 25 and will start construction on the seven-story studio complex nearly two years after the group closed on a deal for the 5.25-acres for more than $71 million. When completed in 2023, Wildflower Studios will join Kaufman Astoria Studios and Silvercup Studios in the entertainment production sector in western Queens.
“Astoria and the borough of Queens as a whole have been titans of the television and film industry for decades, creating thousands of jobs and indirectly supporting countless families,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “We can’t wait to welcome Robert De Niro, another industry titan, and Wildflower Studios to the ‘World’s Borough’ with open arms. We look forward to seeing the fruits of the studio’s Queens-based vision on the big screen in the near future.”
The project is expected to bring at least 500 construction jobs and more than 1,000 daily union jobs upon completion.
“We are delighted to welcome Wildflower Productions, a valued member of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, to Astoria, and will continue to advocate on their behalf as they expand in Queens,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech said. “Western Queens has established itself as a premier location for film and television production. The addition of Wildflower Productions will help create more good-paying jobs for Queens residents working in the industry, and catalyze economic activity that supports local small businesses. I look forward to seeing a generation of iconic films shot and produced in our own backyard.”
When he represented Wildflower through the city’s arduous public review process last year, Community Board 1 voted 35-1 in favor of the project after Raphael De Niro, the famed actor’s son, described how his firm had been talks with Urban Upbound about job opportunities for residents of the Astoria, Queensbridge and Ravenswood Houses, as well as conversations with LaGuardia Community College, the Frank Sinatra High School for the Arts and the Variety Boys & Girls Club in Astoria. He then detailed how the complex was designed with a small cafeteria and no restaurants and no commissary to encourage studio employees to partake of Astoria’s restaurants instead of staying on campus.
“One of the greatest things about Astoria is that, to us, it’s one of the most food-rich and amenity-rich neighborhoods in New York City,” De Niro said. “And so we are going to be encouraging everyone to eat in the community.”
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the famed Danish architecture firm, designed the “futuristic world-class content creation campus in Queens,” which includes 11 sound stages, 310 off-street parking spaces, and a waterfront esplanade that will be open to the public. The facility will also include production support areas, public and private offices.
“The vertical media production village will be home to storytellers working across all mediums – a three-dimensional hub of collaboration, creativity and innovation,” BIG Founder and Creative Director Bjarke Ingels said. “While New York City is no stranger to being the star of many visual stories – the city effectively a character in itself – this first ground-up vertical production stage complex marks a new chapter in the city’s ability to create the stories of our future.”