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Aiello's group appeals N.Y. 'no' on studio

November 20, 2002|Paul Lieberman | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — A group including actor Danny Aiello has gone to court to prevent a city agency from halting its efforts to build a movie studio on an abandoned Navy yard in Staten Island.

The developers of the Stapleton Studios project received a six-month occupancy permit at the start of the year, then got that extended to Oct. 31 while transforming one building -- a large refrigeration shed -- into a soundstage. But the city's Economic Development Corp. refused to extend the permit, citing what one official called a "series of deficiencies" in the group's plan.

The developers have acknowledged that one partner's son had been convicted of a stock fraud conspiracy charge but said he was not involved in the project. They have asked the Staten Island Superior Court to allow them to continue to use and develop the 35-acre site, where Aiello said last year that he hoped to create more than 10 soundstages and 5,500 jobs.

"We've spent in excess of $2.5 million," another of the partners, Robert DeMilia, said Tuesday. "We do have the funding."

A court hearing on the dispute is scheduled Jan. 10.

"The city is still very much in favor of a studio project at the Staten Island home port," a city official said, "but not with this group."

The Staten Island venture is the latest in a series of projects to build more soundstages in New York, whose officials frequently complain about how many movies set in the city are shot elsewhere.

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