With a name that acknowledges the legacy of filmmaking in the U.S., a new, 1.5 million-square-foot motion picture and television studio is set to rise along on the Hudson River in Bayonne.
Turner Construction Co. was awarded a contract to build 1888 Studios by Togus Urban Renewal, the New York-based construction service provider announced Sept. 21. The 17-building campus will include studio sound stage buildings, flexible support spaces, and workshop/mill buildings.
Work on the project located in the southwest corner of Bergen Point is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2023. The City of Bayonne pegs the investment from Togus in bringing 1888 Studios to the former Texaco site at $900 million.
1888 is the year that Thomas Edison, the wizard of Menlo Park, invented his kinetograph motion picture camera and kinetoscope viewer.
“We are extremely excited to be part of the team that will transform this long underutilized waterfront site in Bayonne. In addition to the positive economic benefit of the project for the community, I look forward to viewing the creative work that will be produced in these groundbreaking facilities,” Turner Vice President and General Manager Larry Boresen said in a statement. “It will also be great to see members of the community having access to a revitalized waterfront park and promenade that will be part of the campus.”
According to Turner, the effort will create jobs for more than 2,000 construction workers during the build; once the studio is operational, the company said it will employ approximately 2,000 – 3,000 full-time workers.
Making a mark
During a public meeting held earlier this month about the project, Robert Benecke, identified as a financial advisor to Togus, said that prep work for 1888 Studios has been going on for two years, with about $60 million already invested at the 70-acre site, mostly for dealing with environmental issues with soil. Architect Mike White said that 1888 Studios’ buildings would stand three-stories high to fit in with the city’s existing structures; about 6 acres at the complex is slated for public use, as parkland and a walkway along the waterfront. Togus Senior Vice President for Development James White said the construction would be a 100% union project. He anticipates the work will be completed in the second quarter of 2025.
Mike Hanley, principal at NW Financial Services and Bayonne’s financial advisor, broke down the impact the studio would have on the city. He said 1888 Studios will make more than $200 million in payments-in-lieu of taxes (PILOTs) over 30 years, $130 million of which will go to Bayonne. Hanley also said the developer will provide $50 million in public improvements — like the park and walkway. Over the three decades, Hanley predicted 1888 Studios’ payment to Bayonne would start at $7 million per year and grow to $31 million annually.