2012-05-16 / Features

Funding Approved For Kaufman Astoria Studios Lot

Artistic renderings for proposed Kaufman gate. Artistic renderings for proposed Kaufman gate. Officials at the National Parks Service last week approved construction plans for development of the city’s first outdoor studio lot at the Kaufman Astoria Studios (KAS) in Long Island City.

Approval of the federal funding paves the way for the studio to begin work on the project that includes a plan to “gate” 36th Street between 34th and 35th Avenues, closing it to pedestrians, local residents and vehicular traffic. Emergency vehicles will still be allowed to drive through the block, studio officials said.

At a May 4 press conference outside KAS, Senator Charles Schumer called on the federal government to release funds for the $2 million project that is expected to open in 2015. Completion of the lot will help attract more film projects to the city, Schumer said.

The Queens Borough Board approved the proposal to de-map 36th Street in May 2011, green lighting the KAS plan to lease the street from the city. The main entrance to the Kaufman Studios is centrally located on the heavily trafficked street.

Gating the street would incorporate the block as part of the studio’s property, privatizing the road through a lease agreement with the city that would run through 2049, a spokesperson for the city Economic Development Corporation (EDC) said.

Officials refused to disclose how much the city plans to charge KAS for the street, but said the proposal is a “significant investment” on the part of the studio. Additionally, officials said a major production could bring between 200 and 400 jobs to the area.

“With the National Parks Service signoff, the project can move forward on schedule and begin competing for major productions with places like Los Angeles and Toronto,” Schumer said.

Kaufman Astoria Studios is included on the listing of National Historic Places.

—Liz Goff

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