Star-stricken! Midwood film studio is a parking hog, residents say

Actor and Park Slope legend John Turturro stopped by the Brooklyn Academy of Music to present his new film tribute to Naples, “Passione.”
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Workers at an Avenue M movie and television studio are causing a parking nightmare — and breaking the law — angry neighbors claim.

Parking has become nearly impossible for residents and shoppers around JC Studios whenever the city okays restrictions outside the studio between E. 13th and E. 14th streets for film production, a problem that has been exacerbated by the studio’s unwillingness to stick to a promise owners made two years ago, residents say.

“JC Studios is thumbing their nose at everybody,” said Jonathan Zemmol, the owner of the Yellow Door, a jewelry store on Avenue M across from the famed stage. “They’re being completely duplicitous despite the clear agreement we have worked out.”

Zemmol and other community figures claim that JC Studios promised residents at a 2010 meeting that it would only apply for film permits for three streets adjacent to its studio — E. 13th Street, E. 14th Street, and Locust Avenue.

“The agreement was that they should only use the three sides of the street adjacent to the building when they get permits from the city,” said Chaim Deutsch, a staffer with Councilman Mike Nelson’s office who was present at the December 2010 meeting, held at JC Studios. “The city would not give them space for more than just trucks and employee’s vehicles.”

Deutsch and other residents say the studio’s productions routinely spill beyond these three streets.

“Instead of using three sides, they get permits for blocks of Chestnut, both sides of E. 13th and E. 14th streets, and both sides of Locust Avenue,” he said.

Yet the studio denies ever hashing out an agreement with the neighborhood at all.

“We rent out the studio and the production company comes in with a permit they get from the city,” said Rudy Jean, the manager of the studio, which has its own parking lot for employees. “That’s something they should call the mayor’s office about.”

Jean says he’s never heard complaints from neighbors, but residents argue it’s gotten worse since the soap opera “As the World Turns” stopped taping there in 2010.

“Before, everything was in-house; they didn’t do anything to disrupt the neighborhood,” said Boruch Moskovitz, a resident of E. 13th Street who claims he routinely has trouble finding space to park on his block. “All of a sudden they’re abusing the permits they’re getting with private vehicles and taking away parking from the community.”

The city confirmed that it has given 18 filming permits to JC Studios in 2012, but said that, as a rule, parking in permitted areas was limited to production vehicles.

“We continue to monitor the parking situation in the vicinity and regularly send out field representatives to ensure that a production is in compliance with its permits,” said Marybeth Ihle, a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

The famed stage, which has been around since early in the 20th Century, recently angered residents over a plan to close down streets in the neighborhood during peak shopping times before Yom Kippur for a star-studded production involving John Tuturro, Christopher Walken, and Alicia Silverstone, though the plan was eventually scaled back after neighborhood outcry.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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