Brooklyn College Benefits Too: Downtown Film Department
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Doug Steiner's plan to rebuild the Brooklyn Navy Yard's historic hospital annex took a big step forward Thursday with word of crucial state funding.
Gov. Cuomo awarded a $6.3 million grant for modern infrastructure at Steiner Studios Media Campus, which is a project to restore and adapt nine historic buildings – including America's first Naval hospital – for use by film and TV producers, techies, academics and media folk.
“The media campus project's going to strengthen New York's status as the place to be for production and post- production work by constructing more than 170,000 square feet of sound stages to meet the critical demand in New York for space to shoot television shows and commercials,” Ken Adams, president and CEO of Empire State Development Corp., said Thursday.
Adams announced the award at a press conference at Steiner Studios' newly renovated Art Deco building, 25 Washington Ave.
The Naval Annex is adjacent to Steiner's existing Navy Yard film and TV studio complex, which opened in 2004 and is already the largest outside Hollywood. Movies made there include “American Gangster,” “Revolutionary Road” and “Spiderman 3.” TV series such as “Boardwalk Empire” are working there.
The award follows a $5 million state grant made last year for the project, which will also entail the construction of five new buildings. The city Economic Development Corp. is offering $11.3 million to match the state money, Adams said.
The government funds will allow Steiner to finance the $137 million infrastructure project – which is part of a 12-year, $347 million master plan to revive the Naval Annex in partnership with the nonprofit Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp.
“The state and the city are very concerned that they leverage their investment with private investment,” Steiner told the Brooklyn Eagle after the press conference. “ And we have a ratio of something like 10 to 1 here, and job creation that's second to none.
“The infrastructure is critical to us because we're in a very low-margin business and most anywhere in New York the utilities are there and in good, modern shape,” he said.
At the Naval Annex – whose Tuckahoe marble hospital building was constructed in 1838 – they're not. And utility companies are under no obligation to modernize, leaving Steiner Studios “uniquely penalized,” he said. The 20-acre Naval Annex has been vacant and closed to the public for a quarter-century. It needs gas, water, sewer, electric and teledata infrastructure.
“We see film and television production or content creation being the manufacturing for the 21st Century,” he added. “And it's a business that New York does exceedingly well.”
The Steiner Studios Media Campus is a priority project of the New York City Regional Economic Development Council, which champions the use of state funds for job-generating projects.
Officials at the press conference included Navy Yard Development Corp. president and CEO David Ehrenberg, state Sen. Marty Golden, state Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and CUNY Chancellor Emeritus Matthew Goldstein, who heads the regional development council.
Afterwards, on a bus tour of the Naval Annex, Steiner showed officials a spot where he plans to build an underwater stage – where non-chlorinated water will be used so the actors' eyes won't burn. He pointed out a World War II-era Officers' Club that will be the first building that will be renovated.
“This is what I fell in love with when I came here,” he said, recalling that packs of wild dogs roamed the rolling hills dotted with weather-beaten but still stunning buildings.