PILOT lands lights, cameras, action in Port Washington

Blue screen: Major television productions like HBO's "Watchmen" could soon be filmed on Long Island, if developers and Nassau County have their way.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Spoiler alert: Hollywood is coming soon to a Long Island county near you.

Actually, pandemics notwithstanding, television and movie production is already thriving on the Island – but you can expect it to gain steam now that the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency has embraced a $15 million renovation plan that will bring a new film studio to Port Washington.

The IDA has issued approvals for a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes package for 101 Channel LLC, an offshoot of Lunar Module Park LLC, which plans to renovate the former Publishers Clearing Housing building on Channel Drive into a 100,000-square-foot production facility with six separate soundstages.

Lunar Module Park is owned by developer Parviz Farahzad, who – with the Nassau IDA’s help – previously turned the former Apollo Lunar Module assembly plant in Bethpage into Grumman Studios, a 161,000-square-foot, eight-soundstage movie studio.

In addition to offering a new 15-year PILOT plan for Farahzad’s Port Washington project, the IDA has granted Lunar Module Park a nine-year extension on its Bethpage PILOT, which according to the developer has already paid off for Nassau County.

Laura Curran: Filmed on location.

“The Nassau County IDA has supported Lunar Module Park’s endeavors for many years now, and our projects have been beneficial both for us and Nassau County residents,” Farahzad said in a statement. “In working together, we have been able to create hundreds of jobs and spur a significant amount of economic activity in the region.”

The extension, on top of the new 15-year Port Washington PILOT, sounds extremely generous – but it’s actually a bounty of smart short- and long-term planning, according to the IDA, which projects 400 new full-time jobs when the new soundstages come online, plus $38 million in combined tax revenues from the two projects over the next 15 years, even with the PILOT plans in place.

And then there’s the nearly $800 million in regional economic impact expected to be generated by Farahzad’s properties over the next decade-plus, a can’t-pass opportunity for the county and the Island, according to Nassau IDA Chairman Richard Kessel.

“The film industry’s footprint in Nassau County is growing and we are becoming an even more attractive place for filmmakers,” Kessel said. “Film production generates tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue and economic growth, given the sheer volume of people involved.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran counted $170 million in Long Island economic activity generated annually by film and television production – and invoked several small-screen giants in her praise of the IDA, noting “major players like HBO, Apple TV, Netflix and NBC all [have] projects in the works.”

“I am delighted that the IDA is able to assist in bringing a third fully approved New York State sound studio to Nassau County, just as the film and television industry is making its comeback,” Curran said in a statement. “A new studio in Port Washington, coupled with our myriad locations and proximity to New York City, furthers Nassau’s position as the place to film.”