Bring up the Bodies
East Village preservation groups made little headway in their battle to save a local church after the Landmarks Preservation Commission said it could not order an archeological survey to determine if a graveyard exists on the site.
Developer Doug Steiner bought the property at 181 Avenue A last year for $41 million and has plans for a 140-unit rental apartment building on the grounds of Mary Help of Christians. Preservationists hoping to spare the former church, which opened in 1917, thought the revelation that a cemetery was once located at the site could stop the wrecking ball.
“People said we were crazy to build in Brooklyn, no one would ever come to Brooklyn,” Doug Steiner said from the rooftop terrace of his biggest development in the borough. The Jersey-born builder was wearing his usual polo shirt and jeans, comfortable in the unseasonably warm weather in late February, the sun glinting off his clean-shaven head. “In those days, there were wild dogs running in the streets,” Mr. Steiner added for effect.
“But look at these views,” he continued, pointing out across Wallabout Bay and the span of the East River beyond. “You’ve got the gritty industrial underbelly of the city in the foreground, the financial capital of the world in the background.” One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building bookended the panorama.
It was 1999 when Doug Steiner brought the family development business to Brooklyn. As he and so many other fortune seekers have since proved, the decision was anything but crazy. But it was not condos or artists lofts that Mr. Steiner was selling. He was in pictures.
Two weeks ago, with the mayor standing just in front of him at the podium, Mr. Steiner opened five new sound stages at his eponymous Steiner Studios inside the sprawling Brooklyn Navy Yards, bringing the total to 15. That is halfway to the ultimate goal of 32 and, at 50 acres, the largest American film production facilities outside of Hollywood—behind Warner Brothers and Paramount, and rivaling the Walt Disney and CBS backlots.
The tide of film and TV productions fleeing to cheaper non–New York locations such as Toronto and Prague has infuriated city leaders for years, prompting anti-Canadian propaganda on the set of Sex and the City and moral outrage over the shot-in-Montreal Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story. On Sept. 28, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Read More