Vornado, Blackstone JV to Build $350M Manhattan Film Studio

Construction will begin in the third quarter.

An aerial rendering of Sunset Pier 94. Image courtesy of Vornado Realty Trust

A joint venture of Vornado Realty Trust, Hudson Pacific Properties, Blackstone, the City of New York and the New York City Economic Development Corp. will develop Sunset Pier 94 Studios, a film studio campus and public park extension in Manhattan’s Lower West Side.

Construction will begin in the third quarter of this year, at the site of a riverside event space, with a full build-out expected before the end of 2025.

The development marks the borough’s first purpose-built studio to come online in a public-private partnership. Vornado will serve as the $350 million project’s developer, while Hudson Pacific will provide design and property management services. Royal Bank of Canada provided the bulk of the construction financing, which amounts to $183 million.

Vornado is the primary stakeholder, owning 49.9 percent of the property; Hudson Pacific and Blackstone’s Core+ Real Estate fund will hold a 25.6 and 24.5 percent stake in the project, respectively. For Hudson Pacific, the development is the latest in its Sunset Studios brand of production facilities, a partnership where Blackstone serves as fund manager.

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Upon completion, the 266,000-square-foot Sunset Pier 94 Studios will comprise six sound stages totaling 85,000 square feet with 36-foot maximum clear heights, along with 145,000 square feet of production support facilities and offices. Amenities are set to include a mill, a greenroom, hair & makeup rooms and 105 parking spaces. Designed by Gensler to achieve LEED Gold and Fitwel certifications, the building will operate entirely off renewable energy.

Facing the Hudson River, the 5.4-acre site is in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, home to the Actors Studio, an organization that trains film and stage performers. The facility will be close to the pier terminal and Hudson River Park, providing access to the area’s diverse retail, dining and entertainment options. Midtown is 1 mile to the east.

The studio’s story

Vornado has leased Pier 94 and the adjacent Pier 92 since 2008, operating an event space at the lot. The firm was initially tapped by the NYCEDC to redevelop the piers into a convention center, securing a 99-year lease, according to W24ST, but plans were never fully realized. In 2012, the ports were damaged by Hurricane Sandy, and Pier 92 was deemed unusable following city inspections seven years later.

In June 2022, the firm proposed the construction of the film studio at the time of the third lease expiration. The proposal was met with controversy, as Manhattan Community Board 4 contended in a public hearing that the developer failed to deliver the promised public space improvements, as well as repairs to the docks themselves.

Final plans, approved by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, call for the construction of 25,000 square feet of open space facing the Hudson River, an 1,850-square-foot community amenity space and improved restrooms for the park. The project 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.

The construction of Sunset Pier 94 is taking place at the same time as several other film studio developments around New York City. One of the projects, a 275,000-square-foot studio in Queens, recently received $193 million in financing.

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