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Two thumbs up: Feds OK city plan to seize Gowanus film studio

On a mission: Eastern Effects owner Scott Levy is trying to convince the city not to sieze his studio during the Gownaus Canal cleanup, and use a different lot instead.
Brooklyn Paper
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He’s hoping for a Hollywood ending.

The owner of an imperiled Gowanus film studio is making a last-ditch plea to the DeBlasio administration to spare his soundstage from the wrecking ball, after the Feds on Thursday signed off on the city’s plan to seize the property for use in the Canal cleanup effort.

If the city really cares about the $9-billion local film industry it is so fond on touting, he said, DeBlasio and film czar Julie Menin will step in and call “cut.”

“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,” said Scott Levy, who is the owner of Eastern Effects on Nevins Street between DeGraw and Sackett streets. “Here’s a golden opportunity for her to do the right thing and save one of her own.”

Levy has been leading a campaign to save his studio — best known as where cable network FX films its Cold War spy drama “The Americans” — since last month, when he learned of the city’s plan to take it via eminent domain and use it as a work site for a giant sewage tank it is building on an adjacent lot over DeGraw Street.

Many residents, local pols, and Hollywood honchos joined his crusade, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency — which is forcing the city to build the tank but letting it decide where to stick the thing — last week dealt a blow when it approved the proposal.

Levy has identified three other lots nearby that the city could use instead — two that are already vacant and one that has been on the market for years.

But a city spokesman told the New York Times they aren’t ideal — it would have to shut parts of Nevins Street for years to use those sites, while using Eastern Effects only means closing a relatively quiet cul-de-sac at the end of DeGraw Street.

Levy claims his business would likely not survive the studio’s closure. He owns several other properties along the Canal, but none are as large or lucrative as the lot in question, and it would be difficult to find an appropriate replacement, he claims.

He has already pumped $5 million into building the studio there and is only five years into a 20-year lease on the property, but won’t get any compensation if the city takes it from the landlord, he says.

A spokesman for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection said it is continuing to look at all alternative sites and is in talks with Eastern Effects, but refused to say whether there is any chance it will actually change its mind.

If it does, though, the Feds say they are also happy to sign off on a different site.

“EPA would be supportive of such approaches and would work closely with NYC to realize them,” the Environmental Protection Agency wrote in its response to the influx of public comments.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Good riddance. All the blocking off of streets and local businesses for some crap TV show needs to stop.
June 13, 2016, 12:25 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Hello Jim, John Wasserman here. I appreciate your thoughts, but don't forget when you watch those shows the great feeling you get when you see your own block. Pardon the interruption. John Wasserman
June 13, 2016, 1:40 pm
Paulette Rigolli from Park Slope says:
I think it is a terrible travesty to put someone trying to earn an honest living, out of business. The city wants to take the property, but what are they offering this company, that is currently employing hundreds of people. Political talk is cheap. When they are running for office, they talk out of one side of their mouth, and when they are in office, it is another story.
It is not impossible to locate this facility of the city somewhere else. This location is occupied. Get a location that is not occupied and leave this person earn a living. Or rather they want all these people to go on welfare!!!!!
June 13, 2016, 3:27 pm
Mike Naylon from Brighton Beach says:
It's a little late to ask for help from DeBlasio--the deadline for bribes--oops, I mean 'donations'--has passed.
June 13, 2016, 5:49 pm
Partha Das says:
How much would this stick in the mud cost the city for delaying (construction cost inflation) or displacing the project to a pricier less appropriate location?

Pay the property tax market assessment, no more!
June 14, 2016, 3:50 pm

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