The Bronx is ready to boogie down with the growing TV and film production industry.
Executives from York Studios broke ground Tuesday on their planned nine-stage Michaelangelo production complex in Soundview. The Queens company’s expansion comes on the heels of another Queens company, Silvercup Studios, opening a 115,000- square-foot facility in Port Morris.
John Battista, York Studios executive vice president of operations, said the firm saw an opportunity to meet growing demand for production space in a 10-acre lot that has sat vacant for more than two decades.
“If you build it they will come,” Battista said, noting that the borough’s eclectic architecture and diverse residents will appeal to camera crews. “I just want the Bronx to get used to hearing three words … lights, camera, action.”
Battista said York Studios will open the first five stages by October 2018, and later complete another four stages for a total of 350,000 square feet of production space.
The complex is expected to cost $100 million. York Studios is also slated to receive $36 million in tax benefits from the New York City Economic Development Corporation and $6.2 million in state aid for the project.
Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul lauded the government investment, noting it will benefit the local economy by providing a customer base for local eateries, hardware stores and lumber yards. The production space is expected to generate some 400 jobs.
Díaz predicted that tourists may soon trek to more parts of the borough after seeing it on their TV screens. He said this would correct long-standing negative stereotypes popularized by the film industry in movies like “Fort Apache, The Bronx” and “The Bonfire of the Vanities.”
“The world is going to see that the Bronx is back,” Díaz said. “The other boroughs, you’ve been experiencing a hearty meal with the film industries — billions of dollars. Today the Bronx is saying, ‘We want in.’ ”
Hours before the groundbreaking, the city announced a record-breaking 56 television series were filmed in the boroughs during the most recent season. Battista said he fields calls from people looking for production space “every other day,” now that platforms like Amazon and Netflix are creating features.
But just 2.85% of filming permits issued in 2016 were for locations in the Bronx, according to city stats.
That could change with two studio hubs operating in the borough. Although York Studios competes with Silvercup Studios, Battista said locating near Silvercup could only help the business.
“People [will] get familiar with coming to the Bronx because this is a new borough for stages and studios,” he said.
York Studios’ opening was welcomed by Bronxites like Pope Jackson, 40, who works in the film industry and sits on the board of the Friends of Soundview Park.
“Bringing creative people to the area is always going to have a good benefit,” said Jackson, who lives in Parkchester. “The concern always is: will they talk to the people that have been here?”