Brook­lyn Sound­stage Com­pany Ac­quires SI Prison for $7M

The Jewish Voice - - NEW YORK - By Charles Bern­stein

New York state has closed on a $7 mil­lion ac­qui­si­tion with the Green­point-based sound­stage com­pany Broad­way Stages for a 69-acre for­mer prison fa­cil­ity in Staten Is­land. The new fa­cil­ity is ex­pected to draw in lots of tele­vi­sion and movie pro­duc­tions that are look­ing to film au­then­tic jail scenes.

Broad­way Stages agreed to in­vest $20 mil­lion for main­te­nance work, ren­o­va­tions and the fu­ture con­struc­tion of six sound­stages in the old Arthur Kill Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity as part of the ac­qui­si­tion. The fa­cil­ity sits on the wa­ter’s edge in Staten Is­land’s neigh­bor­hood of Rossville.

The re­cent pop­u­lar­ity of prison-themed shows, like Or­ange is the New Black, are in­creas­ing pro­duc­tions’ needs for jail lo­ca­tions, Broad­way Stages pres­i­dent and CEO Gina Ar­gento told Crain’s. She ex­plained that her com­pany can gain an edge over its city com­peti­tors by hav­ing a prison fa­cil­ity in its port­fo­lio.

Ar­gento said, "A lot of pro­duc­tions have had to go Upstate to film prison scenes. To have a prison in the city that has such a feel­ing of au­then­tic­ity to it is go­ing to be very at­trac­tive to a lot of pro­duc­tions that are oth­er­wise based in the city."

Ac­cord­ing to Crain’s, “Broad­way Stages won a state so­lic­i­ta­tion for buy­ers of the site over three years ago, but was de­layed in part in clos­ing on the deal by State Comp­trol­ler Thomas DiNapoli. DiNapoli's of­fice had di­rected scru­tiny at Ar­gento af­ter her name arose in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by fed­eral and state prose­cu­tors into Mayor Bill de Bla­sio's cam­paign fundrais­ing. Through a lawyer, Ar­gento had said she felt pres­sured to do­nate to de Bla­sio. The sound­stage firm has been us­ing the site for some pro­duc­tions in re­cent years as it awaited clos­ing on the pur­chase agree­ment, Ar­gento said. NBC's Blindspot and The Black­list as well as the block­buster, all-fe­male Ocean's 8 have shot there. As part of the deal, Broad­way Stages must in­vest $20 mil­lion in the prop­erty, which houses 45 dif­fer­ent build­ings in ad­di­tion to the jail, over the next five years.”

Ar­gento said, "The first thing we're go­ing to do is main­te­nance and re­pair work to re­store plumb­ing and wa­ter and elec­tric­ity to the build­ings. The first step is to bring ev­ery­thing back to code."

While the fa­cil­ity is be­ing used for pro­duc­tions, the other build­ings on the site will prob­a­bly func­tion as of­fice space, Ar­gento told Crain’s.

A jail con­tain­ing 400 cells is the prop­er­ties core piece. Up un­til 2011 it was used to house male in­mates.

"It re­ally has that scary fac­tor. It's not the kind of place you'd want to get locked in overnight,” Ar­gento said.

Arthur Kill Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity in Staten Is­land will be given new life as a stage for pro­duc­tions. (Photo Credit: Em­pire State De­vel­op­ment)

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