It’s a prison filled with movie-star inmates.
Not quite, but the neighborhood’s quintessential film production company, Broadway Stages, announced yet another expansion with the purchase of the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility in Staten Island this week.
Broadway Stages spent $7 million to purchase the closed prison from the State, and will spend an additional $20 million to convert the 69-acre property into a lavish film production space with five sound stages.
“We are excited to turn a prison into a job incubator,” said Gina Argento, president of Broadway Stages.
The venture will generate over 750 jobs in the next couple of years, and could create as many as 1,500 jobs within the next five, according to state officials.
In addition, because the prison is located within an industrial zone, Argento said film productions would bring additional business to the local community. Film crews often purchase supplies locally.
Other local businesses, such as restaurants should benefit as well from the revitalized facility. Argento recalled how a hostess at the nearby historic Old Bermuda Inn, a wedding rental space, exclaimed excitedly that prospective brides considering her services would now get to look out on to a movie studio instead of a prison facility.
“Movie studios coming to Staten Island are good news for the community,” said State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, representing South Brooklyn and Staten Island. “It will translate into hundreds of local private sector jobs. It is an exciting project and the extra economic activity is certainly welcome.”
Argento said the investment was made possible due to the cooperation of the Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the State Senate and Assembly in advancing the New York State Film Tax Credit, which helps make New York a particularly attractive location for production companies. Most recently, Jimmy Fallon moved production of the Tonight Show to New York citing the credit.
Broadway Stages is currently home to several big budget TV and film productions. Some of its on going production credits include hit shows The Good Wife, Hostages and Blue Bloods.
The company is currently working on 11 pilot productions, of which they expect at least seven to be picked up for production. Three will shoot at the Staten Island studio when it opens six months from now and each will bring around 250 new jobs.
Arthur Kill prison was shut down by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2011 as part of the state’s effort to cut back on excessive expenditure. Before its closure it had the capacity to house over 900 inmates, and at one time included a 650-bed drug rehabilitation facility.
Now Broadway Stages will breathe a new kind of movie-star shine into the lifeless facility.