Robert De Niro’s Wildflower Studios closes on $72M Astoria site

Construction is expected to start this summer

Feb.February 10, 2020 01:04 PM
Robert De Niro and a rendering of Wildflower Studios (Credit: Getty Images and BIG)

Robert De Niro and a rendering of Wildflower Studios (Credit: Getty Images and BIG)

Robert De Niro’s new film production studio now has its development site in hand.

Wildflower Studios closed on its purchase of a 5.25-acre waterfront parcel in Queens for about $71.6 million from piano-maker Steinway.

It plans to start building foundations for a massive film production facility this summer, and the first movies are expected to be shot at the studio about two years later, said developer Adam Gordon, president of Wildflower LTD.

“Building a design-driven campus in New York City has been a longtime dream,” Gordon said.

Ares Commercial Real Estate Management provided $56.5 million in financing for the land. The firm declined to comment. The project’s total costs are around $400 million, Gordon said.

The deal involves slightly less than half of the Astoria site that Steinway has owned for about 150 years. Steinway will hold on to 5.75 acres, Gordon said.

Wildflower intends to knock down several remaining buildings on the property, which a Steinway representative said were not involved in piano manufacturing. Jonathan Sharaf brokered the deal.

The Bjarke Ingels Group is designing the 650,000-square-foot studio. De Niro is also partnering with his son, Douglas Elliman broker Raphael De Niro, and producer Jane Rosenthal on the project.

The studio will be a few blocks down the road from another proposed film studio. Broadway Stages filed plans last month to convert a building currently used to make food at 45-10 19th Avenue.

Film production studio construction has boomed in New York City in recent years, buoyed by the state’s $420 million annual tax credit — one of the most generous in the nation. But not everyone is a fan of the tax: Subsidy watchdogs have for years decried it as a needless giveaway, and last week a Republican senator in the Democratic-controlled state legislature called to end the credit and repurpose the money to stop residents from fleeing the state.

But the tax credit, which is not permanent but has been repeatedly renewed and enlarged, is not seen as going away any time soon. Last month Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed to extend the credit, with a few changes, in the state budget due April 1. A year ago he briefly threatened to end it, but that was seen as a rebuke to Queens elected officials who opposed the Amazon project that was canceled Feb. 14, 2019.

Write to Mary Diduch at [email protected]

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