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

Man on a mission: ‘Americans’ studio owner fights city land grab
Photo by Louise Wateridge

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
Backup plan: These are the sites that Levy thinks would be better suited for the job.
Sam Figueroa