Construction to Begin This Fall on $350-Million Movie Studio at Pier 94 on Manhattan’s West Side
John Jordan | August 30, 2023
NEW YORK—The developers of the long-anticipated movie/television studio project at Pier 94 on Manhattan’s West Side say that construction is expected to begin this fall on the $350-million, public-private partnership venture.
On Aug. 29, Vornado Realty Trust, Hudson Pacific Properties, Blackstone, the City of New York, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation announced they had entered into Manhattan’s first public-private partnership venture to build a purpose-built studio campus at Pier 94. The project to be built will be called “Sunset Pier 94 Studios.”
Vornado, who contributed its long-term leasehold with New York City for Pier 94 to the venture, will own 49.9%; Hudson Pacific will own 25.6%; and Blackstone’s institutional Core+ Real Estate strategy will own 24.5%. Vornado will be responsible for development and Hudson Pacific will provide design oversight and manage the facility’s leasing and operations.
Plans for the 266,000-square-foot Sunset Pier 94 Studios include six purpose-built soundstages with production control room facilities and 145,000 square feet of production support space and offices, with Hudson River views and on-site parking. Several stages will have technological infrastructure for adaptation to virtual production. The facility’s location, design, size and technological capabilities will provide world-class convenience and flexibility for episodic television, live audience television and feature films, the partnership stated. In alignment with the broader Sunset Studios portfolio, Sunset Pier 94 Studios will prioritize sustainability, targeting LEED Gold and Fitwel certification, with plans for operations to be powered by 100% renewable energy.
“With our administration’s leadership, New York City is back—we have recovered 99% of the jobs lost during the pandemic, and visitors from across the world are returning to Broadway and Times Square,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “At the same time, from Willets Points in Queens to Kips Bay in Manhattan to Kingsbridge Heights in the Bronx, we are advancing bold economic development projects across the entire city that will create tens of thousands of family-sustaining jobs in our communities, and the activation of Pier 94 will produce the same kinds of economic opportunities on the West Side of Manhattan. This project will bring critical, long-awaited investment to this public asset, turn an underutilized space into an economic driver, and improve public space and quality of life for New Yorkers.”
“Sunset Pier 94 Studios demonstrates a monumental public-private partnership that will have a lasting impact on our city by creating 400 film and TV jobs, over 1,300 construction jobs, along with an estimated economic impact of $6.4 billion over the next 30 years,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President & CEO Andrew Kimball.
“Our partnership with Blackstone, Hudson Pacific, and the City of New York will solidify New York as a leading market for content production and studio space, create jobs, drive economic momentum, and deliver a host of amenities to the surrounding community,” said Michael Franco, President and Chief Financial Officer at Vornado Realty Trust. “Together we’ll raise the bar for one of New York City’s signature industries and breathe new life into a key waterfront site.”
The new facility will be the first New York location for Hudson Pacific and Blackstone’s growing studio platform and synergistic with its existing Los Angeles operations. With the addition of Sunset Pier 94 Studios, Sunset Studios will comprise 69 existing and planned stages globally across six purpose-built facilities, all in top-tier locations within the well-established and supply constrained production epicenters of Los Angeles, London and New York. Sunset Studio’s planned Sunset Waltham Cross Studios is expected to open in 2026 with 21 sound stages. Hudson Pacific’s Quixote brand operates an additional 26 stages in Los Angeles and New Orleans and services productions in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, New Orleans and Albuquerque.
The project represents a total investment of approximately $350 million from Vornado, Hudson Pacific and Blackstone, and is expected to create more than 1,300 construction jobs, 400 permanent jobs and contribute $6.4 billion to the local economy over the next 30 years. Construction will begin in the third quarter of this year. RBC is providing $183 million in construction financing. The project is expected to be completed by year-end 2025.
The New York City Economic Development Corp. reached an agreement with Vornado Realty Trust in April 2008 to redevelop Pier 94. The original plan called for the development of a trade show facility and also included the adjacent Pier 92 site. However, the Pier 92 location is not part of the current movie studio project plan.
Sunset Pier 94 Studios will also include a host of public amenities, including new public restrooms for Hudson River Park, an 1,850-square-foot community amenity space, 25,000 square feet of waterfront open space and pier access, and safety improvements to the bikeway. There will also be a program to support workforce development and training programs to connect local residents to opportunities in film, television, commercial and other media production.
“We are thrilled to partner with the City of New York, Vornado, and Blackstone to bring this unparalleled, ideally located production experience to New York. The city has an extensive, well-established production infrastructure yet is highly supply constrained in terms of stages,” said Victor Coleman, Chairman and CEO of Hudson Pacific. “Once again we are leveraging our industry relationships and unique expertise in building and operating premier facilities for leading content creators in the highest-barrier-to-entry global media markets to create long-term value for our shareholders.”
“Content creation is one of our key global investment themes, and we are thrilled to be part of this one-of-a-kind, public-private partnership that delivers for our investors while aiming to create more than 1,300 construction jobs and 400 permanent jobs, and contribute $6.4 billion over the next 30 years to the local New York City economy. I want to thank the City of New York, Mayor Eric Adams, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation for helping make this project possible,” said Nadeem Meghji, Blackstone’s Head of Real Estate Americas.