Gowanus Film Studio Heads To City Hall, Fighting With Spunk After Canal Sewage Tank Decision

Gowanus Film Studio Heads To City Hall, Fighting With Spunk After Canal Sewage Tank Decision
epa
Via the Environmental Protection Agency

The Gowanus-based film and television studio Eastern Effects heads to City Hall tomorrow morning with an important mail delivery that they hope will help spare their space.

The company has led a campaign for community members, film and television employees, and local businesses to sign letters of support for the studio. They plans to arrive at the steps of City Hall on Wednesday, June 15 at 11:00am.

The studio at 270 Nevins Street (between Sackett and Degraw Streets) is home base for commercials, television shows, and films — including The Americans. The company risks losing their studio space should their location be used as a temporary staging and construction area for the installation of two combined sewage overflow (CSO) tanks required to clean up the canal.

“Together, we will deliver our more than 2,100 letters in support of Eastern Effects and ask that the City step in and save our studio from being torn down for use as a temporary EPA staging site,” writes Eastern Effects on their Facebook page.

Last Thursday, the EPA announced their sewage tank location plans after a community meeting in April as well as the public comment period which ended on May 31. The EPA’s response consists of two sections:

  • One 8 million gallon tank which would be built on two properties: 242 Nevins Street and 234 Butler Street.
  • One 4 million gallon tank which would be built at a “salt lot” at 2nd Avenue and 5th Street — run by the Department of Sanitation.
  • A staging area for construction at 270 Nevins Street (currently Eastern Effects)
eastern effects
Via Eastern Effects

In addition to their letters, the studio will deliver three proposed alternate options for the staging area, which would spare their studio. The options include two nearby vacant lots — one owned by ConEdison — as well as a lot which they say has been on the market for many years.

In an Open Letter to NYC’s New Film and TV Ambassadors, Founder and CEO Scott Levy writes:

“By the City’s own estimate, the film and television industry brings in $9 billion to our local economy, supports 109,000 full-time equivalent jobs, and indirectly supports another 20,000 full-time equivalent jobs at caterers, location rentals, and other local suppliers.
A record 52 scripted television series are being filmed in New York City — double the number from 2013. But it’s becoming nearly impossible for productions to find adequate space in New York City. If they cannot find space, productions will turn to other cities, costing New York City jobs and valuable tax revenue.”

After a recent meeting, Community Board 6 submitted a letter on June 13 to Walter Mugdan, U.S. EPA Superfund Director, expressing its concern for job loss in the community:

“We are deeply concerned about the dislocation and job loss that could occur in the event that the City of New York takes by negotiated acquisition either by friendly condemnation or eminent domain the property at 270 Nevins Street, known as Staging Area Parcel 1, for temporary use during the installation of the RH-034 retention tank at the head end of the canal as part of the Gowanus Canal Superfund remedy.
It is our understanding that there are alternative locations of approximately equal size that are likely available at similar cost for such a purpose and that such sites do not have active businesses that employ such a significant number of individuals in living wage jobs.”

According to the Daily News, Mayor de Blasio calls it a “complicated situation. We certainly are going to try and help them,” he said.

According to DNAinfo, the EPA isn’t requiring the city to use 270 Nevins as a staging area, meaning they would be open to considering alternative spaces.

Levy is calling on both the de Blasio administration — including the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Julie Menin — to support the industry.

“We’re devastated to hear this news. Now, the decision rests squarely with the de Blasio administration,” Levy told Gothamist. “We’ve heard a lot of recent talk from Commissioner Menin about the importance of the local film industry, and now it’s time to see some action. Here’s a golden opportunity for her to do the right thing and save one of her own.”

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