Not in Westchester County?
October 19, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Proposed Lionsgate studio lacking application and approvals, Yonkers official says

As of today, Yonkers has yet to receive plans for the $100 million movie and TV studio that Great Point Capital Management and Lionsgate announced they are planning for the city.

Their joint announcement issued on Sept. 5 said, in part, “Construction on the Yonkers site will start this November and the facility will be up and running in late autumn 2020.”

A rendering of the proposed studio.

Yonkers Commissioner of Planning and Development Wilson Kimball told the Business Journal that as of Sept. 10 no application and plans have been submitted to the city.

“We are in daily contact with the developer to work through a plan. The process would be that they would submit to the Department of Housing and Buildings (DHB), which would then bump it to the planning department,” she said.

Kimball said it’s too early to tell whether the project would require a full-scale environmental review, which can be quite time consuming. “It’s too early to tell if we can get a ‘neg dec’ (negative declaration of environmental impacts) because we haven’t seen the plans and don’t know the layout or the full package. When we get the plans we will better know the course of action in regards to SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act).”

It would be possible for the developers to hold a groundbreaking ceremony at any time, and Kimball said that could likely come in November. Actual construction could not legally begin until the city has made any necessary environmental declarations, approved the site plan, issued any required variances and necessary building permits.

“We have already offered to assist the developer to speed up the process of plan review by encouraging them to use a preapproved third-party plan reviewer, which tends to cut down on missing or incorrect issues, but the plans will ultimately need to be reviewed by DHB and the Yonkers Fire Department, both of whom are very responsive. DHB provided the developer with the names of three preapproved plan reviewers yesterday,” Kimball told the Business Journal.

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano told the Business Journal, “I am sure one of reasons for Lionsgate’s decision to move to Yonkers is because they’ve seen Class A developers come here, work with us and be successful. We take pride in our ability to move the process and approvals along. Given this project has the potential in becoming a key economic driver for the city, I am confident our teams will review plans with expertise and be responsive so the studio can be up and running as soon as possible.”

Kawasaki is on the site of the former Otis Elevator plant. Photo by Bob Rozycki

Lionsgate is a producer of motion pictures, television series, digital products and more. The studio is planned for 28 Wells Ave., next to the Kawasaki Rail Car plant, formerly home to Otis Elevator, and part of the iPark Hudson campus, which covers 24 acres.

Great Point Capital Management, a media-focused investment fund run by Robert Halmi and Fehmi Zeko, has signed a letter of intent with Lionsgate to build the production facility with Lionsgate becoming a long-term anchor tenant and investor in the studio complex. As anchor tenant, Lionsgate will have naming rights to the studio. National Resources, based in Greenwich and developer of iPark, would handle the construction.

The entertainment complex would include three 20,000-square-foot and two 10,000-square-foot soundstages, a studio backlot and the opportunity to create a location-based entertainment property similar to what Lionsgate has already established in China, the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.

“This is a game-changer for the city of Yonkers and is a testament to the ongoing revitalization of our waterfront,” Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said at the time of the announcement. “Yonkers already hosts dozens of on-location shoots every year with film days tripling over the last five years, so building a permanent soundstage here makes perfect sense. We are thrilled to have Lionsgate partner with Great Point Capital Management and National Resources to make this happen.”