The owner of the old Publishers Clearing House property at 382 Channel Dr. presented his idea to recycle the building into a film studio before the Village of Port Washington North board of trustees at the monthly board meeting on Oct. 17.
“This is the first time that this particular concept is being socialized,” said Mayor Robert Weitzner just before the presentation. “This presentation is to get an understanding of what they’re looking to do and hopefully move the process forward in an open manner. There are no applications and this is not a hearing.”
Owner of the property Parviz Farahzad, who founded and operates Grumman Studios in Bethpage, and president of West Rac Contracing Corp. and developer Gary Krupnick presented the idea to change the building into four sound stages similar to the Grumman studio stages.
“Our proposal is to maintain the pond and maintain all of the landscaping to improve it and raise the ceilings that are existing to two different levels, one approximately 65 feet above existing grade and the second about half that—35 to 40 feet above existing grade—so by doing that we would create four separate sound studios and a small coffee/cafeteria type set up,” said Krupnick.
The sound stages would occupy the front of the building with four access points for studio trucks to enter each studio, with the two outer studios being 65 feet and the two inner being 35 to 40 feet, while the back of the building would have an administrative area, onsite security, office spaces, cafeteria and technical support. In order to raise the height of the low-ceiling building in the industrial zone, the owner would need a variance.
Krupnick and Farahzad explained that the parking lot will be kept as is with freshly painted lines, but the two don’t expect to have 50 percent of the lot filled at any given time. Also to help cut down on cars in and out, the studio proposes to provide an exclusive transportation service from the train station on a regular basis according to the schedule of the studio employees.
The two also explained that the addition of the film studio on the more than 13 acre property would be revenue positive for the area—set designers may use local hardware stores, actors and actresses may stay in local hotels and all employees may eat in Port restaurants.
“Nassau County IDA was just asked what they thought of the concept in the county and they indicated they would be happy to support it and they’ve been to the Grumman Studios many times and they’ve seen it in operation,” said Krupnick. “It’s not strange to the county executive, any of the administrative people or the fire marshal.”
Krupnick and Farahzad said that Port Washington is a viable location for the project because of its proximity to New York City and the Port Washington LIRR.
“One of the reasons these production companies come to New York is that New York State provides a tax incentive,” said Farahzad. “New York State provides a 30 percent above the line tax incentive for film and production. If you spend $10 million above the line, you get $3 million.”
The proposed building will utilize neutral colors like green tones. Trustee Michael Malatino questioned if the developer and owner could design other facade aesthetics such as one that would tie in with the community’s waterfront position.
Weitzner told residents that this was not the first use suggested for the property as other uses such as a national telcommunications company backroom that would house about 800 employees or as a warehouse have been rejected by the owner to keep in line with a more passive use for the building. He also explained that the presentation was just informational and that Farahzad had not started the formal process yet. Weitzner reminded residents that the board would work with surrounding residents who are impacted—like those in Mill Pond Acres or on Radcliff Drive—similar to how the board worked with locals when Stop and Shop came to Port North.