In a very entertaining and informative conversation with BCW President and CEO Marsha Gordon, Great Point Studios President and CEO Robert Halmi discussed his vision for bringing Lionsgate Studios to Yonkers and his plans to turn Yonkers into “Hollywood on Hudson”. Halmi was the special guest at the BCW Annual Dinner held October 12 at the VIP Country Club in New Rochelle, which was attended by over 500 BCW members and guests.
Halmi, a Westchester County native, said he chose Yonkers to build three film and television production studio campuses, one of which houses Lionsgate, because the city is within a critical 25-mile radius of Manhattan. Halmi said he looks for unusual spaces like the old Otis Elevator building and the old Rising Ground boarding school.
“We wanted a unique place. Some of the studios are old warehouses and they really don’t look that good,” said Halmi, who called the old Otis Elevator Building spectacular. “We have these beautiful old buildings incorporated into these modern facilities. It’s a seamless transfer and it’s really something I could never have dreamed of.
Upon completion of construction in December 2023, the $500 million Great Point Studios in Yonkers will be the largest media production facility in the Northeast and will include three locations. The downtown Yonkers location on Wells Avenue will be the corporate headquarters and primary production center. The South Campus on Hawthorne Avenue will house the largest LED screen stage in the United States. The north campus on North Broadway will be leased by Mediapro, a European film and television production company which also occupies space on the Wells Avenue site.
The Great Point Studios South Campus will also house a new media high school for Yonkers Public Schools. The new school will open up unprecedented opportunities for young Yonkers interested in media careers in an era of explosive content production due to online streaming. Halmi said students graduating from this high school will possess valuable skills that will position them for higher-paying jobs at media production companies.
Halmi had a long and distinguished career in media before opening Great Point Studios. “As President and CEO of Hallmark Entertainment, you have transformed the company from a small production company into one of the first modern studios with production, distribution and broadcast under one roof,” Gordon said. , who moderated Wednesday’s conversation with Halmi. “Now you’ve embarked on realizing your vision to create major new film and television production facilities in the United States and abroad.”
The three campuses are expected to create nearly 2,000 jobs when fully operational. The downtown Yonkers facility currently employs 400 people, 100 of whom are Westchester County residents. Gordon called the new campuses an economic development game changer for Yonkers, Westchester County and New York.
Halmi thanked local officials for their support in making Great Point Studios happen. “We couldn’t get more support than partnering with Mayor Mike Spano,” Halmi said. “He understands his city. He understands which industry will work on it. He really knows what’s important to what we’re trying to establish and he really helped pave the way. Without him, we would never have built this studio.
The theme of the dinner – Celebrating Film Innovation in Westchester – aligns with BCW’s Westchester Innovation Network (WIN) initiative, which is designed to propel innovation as the foundation of the future of economic growth in Westchester.