Exclusive: A Greek-American is Building the Largest Movie Studio in New York City

John Kalafatis is the CEO of York Studios
John Kalafatis is the CEO of Skyline Restoration and York Studios

 

After creating four giants in New York City’s construction sector, serial-entrepreneur John Kalafatis, has started the development of a hundred-million-dollar movie studio in the Big Apple, tapping into the city’s booming movie-industry.

Three years ago, with a move that went unnoticed, the Greek-American businessman bought York Studios, a small studio in Maspeth, NY, while he also purchased the largest open lot in the 5-boroughs of the City. The property will be housing the new facilities of York studios, now under construction, at 1440 Story Avenue in The Bronx.

“We expect the industry to keep booming, our smaller existing studio which is fully operational has been booked for the next two years and people are constantly looking for space,” says Kalafatis.

The York Studios CEO was an entertainment outsider until he was introduced to the movie world by his daughter. Then he saw the potential.

“I realized that it is an up-and-coming industry. The State provides the productions with numerous incentives so they can be attracted here. It seems like that the people in this industry prefer to shoot their TV series and features in New York City, something that has a great economic interest.”

Supply and Demand

New York City is pretty limited in terms of studio square footage in comparison to Los Angeles and Kalafatis is a potential big player.

“We were lucky and happy to find a property that suits the creation of nine stages in the Southern Bronx,” says the Greek-American businessman who was born on Lefkada Island in Greece.

The 10-acre lot, was the only privately owned property of that size not built and its proximity to Manhattan is just a 20 minute drive, an important factor for the production crews and talent that want, or, are obligated, to be close to the city.

“It was perfect to build a small group of studios- relatively to Hollywood – rather large for New York City’s reality,” notes Kalafatis.

When finished, the new York Studio facilities will also include a 65 ft. high and 40,000 sq ft stage, the largest in New York City.

“We will be able to host big blockbuster productions in New York, movies such as Spiderman and Godzilla that require all that space, that are not able to film here right now because of stage limitations.

As of now, his single-stage operating studio has already hosted projects from CBS’ “Elementary” series to the hit films “John Wick” with Keanu Reeves, and “Non-Stop” with Liam Neeson.

The new “York Studios

The $100 million state-of-the-art facility had its groundbreaking last summer and when completed it will consists of a private gated complex complete with nine sound stages, support and production offices, workshops for each stage, as well as on-site parking.

The large-scale environmentally friendly development will be completed in two phases totaling 350,000 square feet bringing with it significant economic benefit to the surrounding local Bronx region. The first five stages of York Studios are expected to be operational by Fall 2018.

Visual of the future York Studios in The Bronx, NY
Visual of the future York Studios in The Bronx, NY

Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. has noted that the Studio will benefit the local economy by providing a customer base for local restaurants, hardware stores and lumber yards. The production space is expected to generate some 400 jobs.

Always thinking the next move…

After building four successful companies (Skyline Restoration, CGI, SRW and Spring Scaffolding) and now his movie studios, John Kalafatis has also planned to produce his first feature film in 2018.

“Right now I am 100% focused on helping York Studios succeed and complete our new state-of-the-art facilities in the South Bronx, but also I am getting involved in the production aspect.”

Owning a film stage lets you come in contact with production, but you cannot affect what is shot there and Kalafatis would like to bring a fresh view into making motion pictures.

“A lot of people need to get excited again with Hollywood and my personal opinion is that there is room for improvement in the production aspect in general. I believe there is a re-shaping of the industry and I am sure a lot of people are thinking about this right now and, maybe – in a tiny percentage – I can add something to that effort of bringing quality back to Hollywood,” concludes Kalafatis.

When fully completed, the York Studios facilities in the Southern Bronx will bring the number of stages the company owns to ten, making it one of the biggest movie stage owners in New York City.