New York is partnering with private real estate firms to construct the city’s first purpose-built film and TV studio campus on Manhattan’s west side, a project that has faced opposition from the local community board.
Vornado Realty Trust, Hudson Pacific Properties and Blackstone will jointly develop the $350m Sunset Pier 94 Studios alongside Hudson River Park. The city government and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) have also backed the public-private venture.
The partners say the project will make New York more competitive with other production hubs like Los Angeles and create over 1,300 construction jobs and 400 permanent studio jobs. They claim it will contribute $5.4bn to the local economy over 30 years.
In addition to the studios, the developer outlined plans in May to connect Clinton Cove (home of Manhattan Community Boathouse and the recently restored “Bottle” installation) with a Hudson River esplanade including a new Citi Bike station, waterfront access, river viewing platform and public restrooms.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams welcomed the Sunset Studios project, saying it was one of many bold economic development initiatives across the city — citing Willets Points in Queens, Kips Bay in Manhattan and Kingsbridge Heights in the Bronx — that will create tens of thousands of jobs. “The activation of Pier 94 will produce the same kinds of economic opportunities on the West Side of Manhattan. This project will bring critical, long-awaited investment to this public asset, turn an underutilized space into an economic driver, and improve public space and quality of life for New Yorkers,” Adams said.
Earlier this year, Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4) raised concerns about Vornado’s previous failure to fulfill all public improvement agreements around the piers during its 14-year lease.
But speaking to W42ST today, MCB4 chair Jeffrey LeFrancois said: “We welcome Pier 94 finally being properly developed, given Vornado has now found viable partners. Hopefully, this project is finished expeditiously, and public improvements will be completed first. While MCB4 raised serious issues about the financials involved with the pier’s redevelopment, that new life will come to this otherwise derelict pier is indeed reason to celebrate.”
LeFrancois previously said it was difficult to access details of the lease between Vornado and the city. The community board also requested Vornado take more responsibility for maintaining Pier 94.
The planned 266,000 sq ft complex will feature six soundstages, production facilities, offices, parking and Hudson River views. It aims to cater to major film and TV productions with its “convenience, flexibility and state-of-the-art technology,” the developers said.
The new Hell’s Kitchen studios will join Sunset Studios’ global network of 69 current and planned stages across six custom-built sites in Los Angeles, London and New York — major production hubs with limited studio space.
Vornado will own 49.9% of the venture, Hudson Pacific 25.6% and Blackstone 24.5%. Construction starts next year, with completion targeted for the end of 2025.
CORRECTION: The original version of this story said the costs were £300m — this has been corrected to $350m.