Town Hall: Goodbye Film, Hello Storage

Hollywood hopes ride into the sunset

   East Hampton Studios, the building on Industrial Road in Wainscott that was constructed as a film production soundstage in hopes that it would stimulate a developing film industry here, will become a storage facility.

    Permission from East Hampton Town, which leases the underlying land to the building owner, Michael Wudyka, was needed to change the use of the site, and town board members agreed Tuesday to the plan. Mr. Wudyka’s rent is in arrears, and he has been unable to turn the stage into a successful film production facility. A sale of the building to a storage company is pending, which would allow Mr. Wudyka to pay the town what he owes.

    Town board members expressed regret that the film industry did not take off here. The property is a part of the town’s industrial park on land around East Hampton Airport, which was envisioned as an incubator for industry that would create local jobs.

    Board members said at a meeting on Tuesday that  a number of town residents, including Frazer Dougherty, had called or written to suggest the town retain the use of the studio building for film production, or perhaps other businesses with a greater economic impact than a storage facility. Mr. Dougherty, the founder of East Hampton’s public access cable station, LTV, also founded and built East Hampton Studios.

    In recent weeks, following an East Hampton Star report on the East Hampton Studios request, representatives of Harvey Weinstein, a film producer who co-founded Miramax Films, called The Star to inquire about the studio, but Mr. Wudyka said earlier this week that he had not been approached.

    On Tuesday, the town board unanimously agreed to allow Mr. Wudyka to assign the lease of the property to the new building owner, whose name has not been made public, for the remainder of the lease, as well as for any renewal period provided therein. A formal resolution is expected shortly.