$100-Million Movie Studio Project Proposed for Hudson River Village
By JOHN JORDAN – November 25, 2022
HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, NY—The burgeoning movie and television production industry in the Hudson Valley could be getting larger as a major “green” television-movie studio project in this Hudson River community is under review.
An early step in the approval process occurred on Nov. 15 when executives with Atlanta-based Electric Owl Studios made a presentation before the Village’s Board of Trustees for a $100-million television/movie studio project, which would be developed at the Graham Windham School property at 1 South Broadway.
The plan calls for Electric Owl Studios to purchase approximately 20 acres of the 24-acre Graham Windham School property. The school, which began operations in Manhattan in 1806 and opened its Hastings campus in 1902,
will retain approximately four acres to continue to operate day programs on the Hastings property. Graham Windham closed its dormitory facilities due to COVID and put the property on the market for sale.
Graham Windham, which also has multiple locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, is an intensive elementary, middle and high school (K-12), serving approximately 300 day-students referred by local school districts across the New York metropolitan area and operated by the Greenburgh-Graham Union Free School District.
No financial terms of the transaction were disclosed for the 20 acres, which is in contract.
John Barrett, managing director investment sales for RM Friedland, is marketing the property on behalf of Graham Windham. Henri Kessler of Marcus & Millichap is representing Electric Owl Studios in the transaction. When contacted by CONSTRUCTION NEWS this month, Mr. Barrett declined the opportunity to comment on the development proposal and property sale.
Electric Owl Co-Founders Michael Hahn and Dan Rosenfelt, along with Ben Ruswick of Michael Maltzan Architecture and William Null of the law firm Cuddy & Feder LLP, detailed the firm’s plan for the property at the Board of Trustees session on Nov. 15. The plan calls for the takeover of the Graham Windham administration building and the construction of six studio buildings totaling approximately 20,000 sq. ft. each. Full build-out would total approximately 300,000 sq. ft.
Mr. Hahn said the project will include many “green” features, including solar green roofs and green border walls. He said Electric Owl’s intent is to transform the Hastings property into the “greenest studio in the world.” Electric Owl is currently constructing a $60-million television-movie studio in Atlanta that is certified LEED Gold. Mr. Hahn said he is hopeful the Hastings development can achieve a higher LEED designation.
In an interview with CONSTRUCTION NEWS, Mr. Hahn said that the buildings would be leased to major production studios such as Netflix and Amazon. The property is currently zoned R-20 for residential use. As such, Hastings-on-Hudson Mayor Nicola Armacost said that Electric Owl will be required to file for a change in zoning.
The project would generate up to $3 million annually in tax revenues for the Village of Hastings, Mr. Hahn noted. The firm is not seeking any tax abatements in connection with the project.
Mayor Armacost said that the Board of Trustee’s initial view of the project is favorable, but she suggested that Electric Owl meet with key stakeholders from the community so that it can address any issues they have. If a zone change is secured, the applicant would then have to seek site plan approval from the village before construction could begin.
Mr. Hahn said that Electric Owl, which has already secured some financial commitments for the Hastings studio project, would like to close on the purchase of the property and begin construction in 2023.
In September 2021, Electric Owl sold its studios on a former General Motors site in the Atlanta suburb of Doraville, GA for $27.5 million, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Electric Owl has commenced construction on its new studio project in Atlanta that will total 320,000 square feet. Those facilities should be open and operational in May 2023, Mr. Hahn said.
Electric Owl had considered properties in Brooklyn and elsewhere in the Hudson Valley. Mr. Hahn said, “But, at the end of the day, we love this town. We love Hastings-on-Hudson.”
If the project is approved by the village, it will join a host of movie-studio ventures in the Hudson Valley, most notably the 500,000 sq.-ft. Lions Gate Studios in Yonkers.