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Actor Robert De Niro’s new Queens, New York $600m multi-story film studio moves forward

Robert De Niro’s Manhattan-based Wildflower Development Group is building a new seven-story building to contain a vertical commercial film, television, and creative studio.

Dubbed the world’s “first vertical commercial film, television, and creative studio,” the $600 million movie studio is backed by the Hollywood star, producer Jane Rosenthal, De Niro’s son Raphael, a real estate broker, and developer Wildflower.

Adam Gordon, president of Wildflower Ltd., said the campus is being created with a wide array of storytelling in mind, including “streaming, AR [augmented reality], VR [virtual reality], and gaming, with a building design that looks toward the future.”

New York Planning Department’s approval comes two years after Wildflower Studios closed on its purchase of the 5.25-acre waterfront parcel for about $71.6 million from piano-maker Steinway. 

Ares Commercial Real Estate Management provided $56.5 million in financing for the land. Steinway kept 5.75 acres for its own factory next door.

Located in Astoria, Queens, and designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, the film studio is situated adjacent to the manufacturing warehouse of the highly-prized Steinway Pianos.

The 775,000-square-foot complex will contain 11 main stages, supported by production areas, open and private offices, a fitness room, cafes, and lounges. Externally, the five-acre former industrial plot will contain 310 off-street parking spaces and a waterfront public real

The stages within the building measure 18,000 square feet, with dimensions 150 feet long, 120 feet wide, and 60 feet high. 

Due to the site’s limited area but generous height allowances, the internal program has been arranged as a vertical film studio with two levels of sound stages, which the team believes to be a world-first.

The 11 studios are each part of a so-called studio module, each consisting of the stage, vertical transportation, and production support spaces such as scene shops and dressing rooms. The modules are arranged into two-story rows within the building, linked by a central spine. 

Externally, the 145-foot-tall building will be clad in two-toned precast concrete panels. 

The pleated panels’ transition between sharp and curved corners, set at angles to create varying shadow effects as the angle of the sun changes throughout the day. 

Two open-air terraces puncture through the façade to form connections to the waterfront, while the building’s roof will include 150,000 square feet of solar panels. 

At the base, meanwhile, the building is lifted out of its flood plain to allow parking underneath the studio.

Though Queens is home to production facilities like Kaufman Astoria Studios and Silvercup Studios, which has produced shows like “30 Rock” and “Sex and the City,” New York is considered secondary to Hollywood when it comes to big-budget movies. 

In a bid to draw business away from LA, Wildflower promises that its new studios will combine the “collaborative environment of a Hollywood-style studio with the latest in digital production capability.”

Construction of the scheme is expected to begin in 2023 and has recently received $600 million in construction funding.