proposed agreement to situate one of the two retention tanks mandated in the Record of Decision at the head of the Canal rather than at the EPA suggested site which is under the pool in the Thomas Greene Park.
The City's plan relies on the taking of two privately owned sites, 234 Butler Street and 242 Nevins Street, by eminent domain. A third site, 270 Nevins Street will most likely also be seized by the City, which plans to use it for staging purposes during the construction project.
This would displace Eastern Effects, a successful film and television studio, where many commercials, movies and television shows like FX's "The Americans" are filmed.
Eastern Effects' founder and president Scott Levy and the studio's general manager Philip Warren attended last Tuesday's Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group's general meeting to make sure the community knew that the closing would mean a 50% loss of business and therefore real hardship. It would also represent a loss of about 200 union jobs during filming and 31 full-time jobs.
In addition, the company contributes, by their estimate, approximately four million dollars ($4,000,000) per year to the local economy.
Levy argued that it makes little sense for the City to seize the site for temporary use, when Eastern Effects has plowed millions into the building to meet all stage 2 requirements and can support New York City's booming film and movie industry.
"I have invested millions of dollars and have spent three of the most grueling years of my life building this studio," Levy told members of the CAG. "We did everything we needed to do."
The City of New York has recently notified Eastern Effect that it would be forced to cease operations at 270 Nevins Street. "The City did not come to us to talk about any of this,' Levy said. "It was news to us and was announced as 'an agreement between the EPA and the City'. We were shocked and upset because no one came to us. Only one person from the City came to do a walk through of the building. So it was time for us to do something to protect ourselves."
Eastern Effects is asking the community's help in saving the 270 Nevis Street building, their studios, their investment and local jobs.
"We have no issue with the building of the tank. We understand that the tank is part of the clean-up that is needed for the City and for this local area," said Levy. "We are not here to debate that, but we think we are an afterthought when it comes to where to put a staging site to support that tank."
Rather, Levy makes the point that there are alternatives to the City's proposed plan. Currently, there are several building located directly adjacent to the lots the City plans to seize by eminent domain, which are currently empty and/or for sale.
That includes 537 Sackett Street, which is located directly across the street from Eastern Effects and is currently empty.
Levy and Warren provided the community with the map pictured above, which shows some alternative sites that could be used by the City.
Eastern Effects also issued the following statement:
Keep Jobs in Gowanus – Stop Eminent Domain from Closing our Studio!
Eastern Effects, Inc. a film and television production studio adjacent to the Gowanus Canal, was recently notified by the City that it would be forced to cease operations and close in order for the property to be used as a temporary staging area for the construction of two combined sewage overflow (CSO) tanks required to clean up the canal. The Gowanus Canal was designated as a Superfund site by the EPA in 2010.
Eastern Effects leases property at 270 Nevins Street (between Sackett and Degraw Street). The studio is in the 5th year of a 20-year lease. The studio hosts over 230 well-paying jobs, utilizes local vendors, and is the setting for the hit television series The Americans.
There are underutilized and vacant properties surrounding the area that are viable alternatives for this temporary staging location. We propose that the City evaluate such sites, saving the studio from closure and maintaining New York City’s position as a leader in the film and television production industry.
Reasons to Support an Alternate Staging Site:
*Eastern Effects invested over $5 million and three years of exhaustive work in the building at 270 Nevins Street to create a state-of-the-art facility that meets the City’s stringent Level 2 stage requirements to accommodate large scale shows —the type of soundstage that productions are actively seeking in New York City. This is the company’s Flagship Studio.
*Eastern Effects is committed to Brooklyn: all five of the company’s buildings are located in the borough—four buildings are located in Gowanus and one building is currently under construction in East New York.
*Since 2009, Eastern Effects has partnered with Brooklyn Workforce Initiative to provide training and job opportunities in the film industry through the Made in NY PA Training Program. Graduates of the program are currently working on the set of The Americans. Eastern Effects also hires graduates of BWI’s CDL driver training, Red Hook on the Road.
*The site supports over 230 jobs, most of which are union. These union employees are represented by: IATSE Locals 600, 5, 817, 700, 161, 829, 764, 798, WGA, DGA, and SAG/AFTRA. Eastern Effects has 31 direct full-time employees, 3 part-time employees, and is planning an expansion this summer.
*Soundstages are unique facilities that require large, open floor plates, high ceilings, and costly specialized infrastructure. There are no viable alternatives to move the stage in Gowanus. The loss of the Flagship Studio will impact Eastern Effects’ nearby production offices, editing suites, writer’s offices, and support spaces.
*The film and television industry wants to be in New York City. A 2015 report showed that the industry brings $8.7 billion into the local economy, with 46 series produced in the five boroughs during the 2014-2015 season. The spending on production creates a ripple effect in the city’s economy, indirectly supporting an additional 20,000 full-time jobs.
*Production companies currently report difficulty in finding adequate studio space in New York City. If they cannot find space, these productions will turn to other cities, costing New York State jobs and valuable tax revenue.￼￼
Meanwhile, our elected officials already threw their support behind the agreement between EPA and the City Of New York, in which the City proposes the taking by eminent domain of 234 Butler Street, 242 Nevins Street, as well as 270 Nevins Street.
New York City Council Member Brad Lander, New York City Council Member Stephen Levin, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, and New York State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, issued a statement "supportive of the approach described in the proposed agreement"
New York City has already signed the agreement, but the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group has asked the EPA for a public comment period before the Federal Government signs it.
Members of the community can send their own comments on the agreement and I strongly encourage you to do so. Please mail to :
U.S. EPA Superfund Director 290 Broadway, Floor 19, New York, N.Y., 10007 mugdan
or email to : email@example.com
Click here to write a letter of support for Eastern Effects