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Community News: Mid-City

WESTLAKE : Film Casts Building in a Comeback Role

November 13, 1994|LUCILLE RENWICK

Hollywood's spotlight shined brightly on the Cambria Apartments recently, giving the newly tenant-owned building a ghoulish look for a day.

Actor Eddie Murphy and a host of camera crews from Paramount Pictures descended on the three-story building on South Union Street for a night of filming for Murphy's upcoming film "Vampire in Brooklyn."

Production company employees saw pictures of the turn-of-the-century building in a news article about its purchase by tenants and thought it would be perfect as an eerie Brooklyn tenement.

In May, a nonprofit cooperative of community leaders and more than 30 residents bought the decaying structure from its absentee landlord.

The purchase ended years of ramshackle conditions that included rotting plumbing and windows, trash-strewn hallways, and graffiti-scarred walls.

Since the sale of the building, the cooperative, Comunidad Cambria, has repainted apartments and hallways and begun repairing other problems.

Those repairs did not evoke images of horror for the movie makers, so black, movable walls, beat-up furniture and just the right lighting were added to give the lobby an eerie look. A creaking wooden staircase winding its way up three flights was the focus of a scene involving a casket.

"They kept bringing the coffin up and down the stairs from 8 at night till 5 the next day," said tenant Teresa Lopez. "You could hear the clanking of chains and things in the hallway."

Paramount paid $10,000 to Comunidad Cambria. Tenants said the money will be used for more improvements to the 66-unit building.

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