Blackstone, Hudson Pacific join Vornado’s Pier 94 studio project

Joint venture investing $350M in production campus

Blackstone, Hudson Pacific Join Vornado’s Pier 94 Project

From left: Hudson Pacific Properties CEO Victor Coleman, Vornado Realty Trust CEO Steven Roth, Blackstone chair Stephen Schwarzman along with a rendering of Sunset Pier 94 Studios (Getty, Vornado Realty Trust, Hudson Pacific Properties)

Actors and writers are still striking, while developers are striking deals to be the next providers of their production spaces.

The Blackstone Group and Hudson Pacific Properties joined Vornado Realty Trust’s production studio project at Pier 94 in Manhattan, the Wall Street Journal reported. The three entities combined to invest $350 million in the joint venture for the development, dubbed Sunset Pier 94 Studios. It’s a public-private partnership with the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

The partners plan to break ground this year on its 266,000-square-foot campus off the Hudson River. The campus will include six soundstages — each an average of 14,000 square feet — offices, writers’ rooms and support facilities. There will also be public amenities folded into the city’s bikeway and park system.

The developers aim to complete construction of Manhattan’s first film and television production studio by the end of 2025. Vornado will own a 49.9 percent stake in the project, while Hudson Pacific will have a 25.6 percent stake and Blackstone will own the rest.

High development costs and a lack of space have kept production campuses marooned to other parts of New York City, particularly Queens. The Big Apple is the nation’s second-largest studio site, despite the lack of a presence in Manhattan.

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Fortunately for the developers, the city is defraying some of the project’s costs. 

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Some community members criticized the incentives the city granted Vornado when Steven Roth’s firm launched the project. Those perks included a promise of $73.5 million to repair and maintain the pier until 2060, as well as giving Vornado a starting rent of $900,000 per year, which won’t escalate to its $2.8 million peak until the end of the 99-year lease — in the next century.

While developers are banking on an end to the concurrent strikes, they’re also betting the streaming wars that exploded during the pandemic will continue, even as some studio operators commence cost-cutting measures.

Holden Walter-Warner