Feb. 16, 2023 By Bill Parry
Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday delivered remarks at a topping-off ceremony at the Robert DeNiro-backed $600 million Wildflower Studios construction site in Astoria. Adams signed the final steel beam that was then hoisted atop the superstructure of the state-of-the-art film production facility that is rising next to the Steinway Piano company along Luyster Creek.
“This is a great opportunity for Queens,” Adams said. “The environmentally-friendly aspect of this, how we’re going to bring film production to the greatest city on the globe, and that’s New York, to hell with California.”
When it’s complete, Wildflower Studios will join Kaufman Astoria Studios and Silvercup Studios in Long Island City to make western Queens an economic driver in the entertainment production industry.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said the project is another key factor in the borough’s renaissance.
“Today’s topping-off ceremony symbolizes certainly the resurgence of our borough’s economy,” Richards said. “From the redevelopment of Willets Point — thanks to our mayor, we’re getting a soccer stadium done, built union in Queens; we’re going to bring hydroelectricity from Canada to Queens — to Astoria — eliminating the ‘Asthma Alley’ that this neighborhood has long suffered from this community — Queens is leading the way, and I couldn’t be prouder to add Wildflower to the growing list of industries which will now call our borough home.”
DeNiro could not make the topping-off ceremony because he was filming elsewhere, according to Wildflower Ltd. Managing Partner Adam Gordon, who will serve as managing director of the multi-level, 775,042 square foot vertical village for film and television production designed by international architect Bjarke Ingels. The facility will contain 11 soundstages, vertical transportation as well as production support that includes prop shops, dressing rooms, and technical areas.
“Today we’re building one of the most ambitious and novel creative campuses in the world all here in Astoria, Queens,” Gordon said. “Today we celebrate the 320 skilled and dedicated workers who come here each day and take a set of plans, a piece of dirt, and a committed team of partners to build something that’s never been built before.”
Commissioner Anne del Castillo, of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, said she was thrilled to take part in the ceremony because Wildflower will feature the world’s first vertical soundstage and be the future home to countless “Made in NY” productions.
“These soundstages will be a boon for local businesses and jobs for New Yorkers, advancing our city’s $82 billion film & TV industry, which makes up 6.5% of our total GDP,” she said.
Before the last beam ascended to the top of the seven-story superstructure, the mayor wrote, “To all the jobs and people who will benefit,” he addressed the construction workers.
“I want to thank you, those who built this project, these are good union jobs,” Adams said. “You’re going to see people being employed here, we’re going to attract all of the film industry, that’s why it’s so important to have the film tax credit.”
The project is expected to bring at least 500 construction jobs and more than 1,000 daily union jobs upon completion.
There was no mention of the rallies by several building trades unions at the site last June and August complaining that the construction companies were using non-union labor. Gordon accentuated the positives of the Wildflower Studios project, which is expected to be completed later this year.
“The city has faced a difficult few years. Crime, homelessness, COVID, and de Blasio,” Gordon said with a laugh. “But amidst those challenges this project represents a moment when the private sector stepped in to pick up the city we love.”
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.