Five Sound Stages To Anchor Staten Island Redevelopment

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Broadway Stages is spending more than $27 million to buy and renovate former prison site, the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, as production booms in New York State thanks to a generous tax-credit program.

The premiere of Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show from New York City this week is one sign of booming production in the state and another is an announcement made Tuesday that a former prison on Staten Island will be turned into a full-service movie and TV studio after more than $20 million in renovations are made.

Broadway Stages, a Brooklyn-based company that operates sound stages where shows including Blue Bloods and The Good Wife are produced, has spent $7 million to acquire the property, which was put up for bid by the state.

The former Arthur Kill Correctional Facility -- a 69-acre site with 43 buildings along the west shore of the Staten Island waterfront -- will be redeveloped with five sound stages, totaling about 100,000 square feet, and parts of the site will be available for use within six months.

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The new production facility is expected to create at least 800 jobs when completed and as many as 1,500 in the future, according to a statement from Empire State Development.

Arthur Kill is one of nine prisons closed by the state of New York two years ago after a 15 percent reduction in the overall crime rate during the prior 10 years. The state's prison population since 1999 has fallen 26 percent to about 54,000.

The state had sought proposals for redevelopment, but with the entertainment industry booming, the focus quickly shifted to adding production facilities.

New York State allocates more than $400 million a year to tax and other incentives to bring production and post-production to New York. According to Empire Development, since 2004 more than 949 projects have participated in the state production tax program, which has created nearly 675,000 jobs and more than $14 billion in direct spending.

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The announcement says that while film industry employment nationwide from 2008 through 2012 fell by six-tenths of 1 percent, it was up in New York State by 28 percent.

"Thanks to the support of the governor and his administration, the film industry is booming and studios like ours are excited about investing and bringing new jobs to New York State," said Gina Argento, president of Broadway Stages. "We are looking forward to expanding on Staten Island and transforming Arthur Kill into a world-class production facility."

Broadway Stages operates facilities in Brooklyn and Queens, with 27 stages totaling over 1 million square feet. It provided facilities and services to 13 of the 23 pilots that were filmed in New York City in 2012.

Now more than 30 years old, it is owned by Argento and her brother, Tony Argento, and started out providing spaces for music videos for Hall & OatesBilly Idol and others.

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"For a long time, I have advocated for a film studio on Staten Island," said New York State Senator Andrew Lanza. "When the prison site became available, I reached out to Tony Argento and Broadway Stages and brought him to the site. It was immediately clear that this would be a perfect fit for Staten Island."

"With this announcement, it is clear that the state's efforts to jumpstart New York's economy and turn around our reputation as a high tax state are paying off," New York state Assemblyman Michael Cusick went on to say. "Today is a big example of how we are bringing new, long-term investments and creating good jobs for the people of this state."

"Thanks to the support of the state, the film and television industries are booming here in New York with a record number of productions shooting across the state last year,” added John Ford, president, ITASE Local 52, predicting this will accelerate the growth of work in the state. "The expansion of Broadway Stages’ facilities will attract even more productions, bringing with them new jobs and millions in economic activity."