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Astoria studio gets OK for outdoor lot: Schumer

The National Park Service approved construction of an outdoor filming lot at Kaufman Studios shortly after U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (c.) visited the Astoria location earlier this month. Photo by Ellis Kaplan
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Let the filming begin!

Less than a week after U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked the National Park Service to nix another review of Kaufman Astoria Studios’ plans to create an outdoor movie lot in Astoria, the federal agency switched gears and gave the project, and by extension potential films and television shows, the green light last week.

“We can finally say, ‘Action,’” Schumer said in a statement. “With National Park’s sign-off, the project can move forward on schedule and begin competing for major productions with places like Los Angeles and Toronto.”

A $2 million expansion has been in the works for Kaufman Astoria Studios, at 34-12 36th St. The studio, which dates back to the silent film era, has been hoping to close down 36th Street between 34th and 35th avenues to create an outdoor lot, the first one in New York City.

Since the studio is on National Park Service land deeded to the city specifically for film purposes, the project has required the approval of the federal agency.

Through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, the outdoor studio lot already has received approval from the city Landmarks Preservation Commission and the state Historic Preservation Office. Both organizations gave the OK to closing the street and allowing construction of the studio lot, although the city Public Design Commission requested that an entrance gate be located on 35th Avenue be redesigned.

Because of the change, the National Park Service requested another review.

Schumer visited the Astoria studio and wrote a letter to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis May 3, urging him to cancel the review. The senator contended it could take another three months and potentially cause the studio to miss out on film projects for the 2013 summer filming season.

On May 9, Schumer announced that Jarvis had acquiesced to Schumer’s request and waived the additional review.

The senator said this will prevent the city from losing jobs that could have gone to other cities.

“I want to thank the National Parks Service for responding to our concerns so promptly and for understanding that the only thing that needed to be cut from this production was the red tape,” Schumer said.

Plans for the studio entrance, which will abut Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Museum of the Moving Image, include a silver gated structure with a spiral staircase and walkway that looks like it is made up of steel beams and a security booth outside.

On top of the walkway a sign reads “Kaufman Astoria Studios” in large blue letters. The studio’s logo is also on the gate.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718260-4564.

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