Can The Former Arthur Kill Correctional Facility Still Become a Movie Studio on Staten Island?

Posted by on Thursday, February 16th, 2017 at 11:09am.

Real Estate development in Staten Island seems to be plagued by political scandals, affecting the island's chance to get a movie studio!

The Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, located in Charleston, was closed down back in 2011 by State Governor Andrew Cuomo. The lot was being scouted by the film industry as the location for a new movie studio. 

New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli stopped the $7 million dollar sale of the former prison, which is state-owned land, to the developer of Broadway Stages. Broadway Stages had plans to turn the property into a movie studio.

The reasoning for DiNapoli’s actions was due to Broadway Stages' owner, Gina Argento, currently being under state and federal investigation for alleged illegal campaign contributions to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.  This information came to light when a letter from the Comptroller’s office to state officials was made public.   

The letter also raised serious concerns about proposed purchase price of the jail. The site was appraised twice, once for between $20 and $52 million and the second time for between $40 and $48 million.

A spokesman for Broadway Stages, Warren Cohn, denied charges of illegal campaign contributions. He stated that many people have been contacted as part of the fundraising probe and Argento was not under investigation. He continued that the Argento's have donated too many candidates on both sides of the aisle throughout the state as part of a civic duty and philanthropy.

However, in a letter that was dated on November 21st, 2016, Argento contradicted the Broadway Stages' spokesman, admitting that she was in fact under investigation and that she was asked to provide copies of donation checks to the U.S. Attorney's office.

It has also been learned that Argento and her family members, tied to Broadway Stages, donated nearly $100,000 to de Blasio's election campaign in 2013 and $9,900 for his 2017 run.

Despite what has occurred, the real estate and development deal are not fully dead. The application for sale can be resubmitted. If successful a second time around, the land once being a prison, but was closed down to save money, will become Staten Island’s only film studio.

This would provide the economic stimulus of good jobs to Staten Island. In addition, Broadway Stages has agreed to spend $20 million within 5 years on the property, in addition to the $500,000 to 2 million that it has already been spent.  

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