Toxic avenger! Pollution foils film studio expansion

Toxic avenger! Pollution foils film studio expansion
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

A Greenpoint film production company’s $24.5-million expansion plans have been temporarily put on hold — thanks to oil contamination on the banks of Newtown Creek.

A city agency nearly signed off on awarding $13.5 million in federal stimulus money to partially fund Broadway Stages’ five new sound stages and studios on Kingsland Avenue, but the state has not cleared the project because of on-site pollution — though a spokeswoman said that the delay is only temporary.

The proposed site, located less than a block away from the former ExxonMobil terminal, has been contaminated with petroleum for decades.

A portion of the property is above the infamous Greenpoint Oil Spill’s 30-million gallon oil plume, according to government maps, although oil companies have removed about one-third of that amount since the beginning of the decade.

On Tuesday, the city’s Economic Development Corporation postponed a vote on the bond to Broadway Stages — and a spokeswoman for the agency said that the stimulus funding would “go back to Washington” if it is not allocated before the end of the year. The group already distributed $15 million in bond money to a stalled luxury hotel site developed by Dumbo-based Two Trees Management.

“It is federal money that is sitting out there,” said city spokeswoman Julie Wood. “What we’re trying to do is get this money out the door. We either use it or lose it.”

Calls to Broadway Stages founders Tony Argento and Gina Argento were not returned.

The Greenpoint-based film and television production company has employed thousands of individuals for nearly a quarter century and housed popular television shows such as “Rescue Me,” “Flight of the Conchords,” “The Good Wife,” and films including “It’s Complicated” and “Sex and the City.”

Its plans to build several new stages containing a film studio, office space and storage space between Greenpoint and Norman avenues, would create 59 new construction jobs and 38 permanent jobs.

The proposal has earned enthusiasm from community leaders, including industrial advocate Leah Archibald.

“They’re prepared to pay for the remediaton and they know it needs to be done,” said Archibald. “They have $10 million of their own money in it already.”