From the Daily News:
The Astoria studio that is home to "Sesame Street" has cleared its first hurdle in its plan to turn a city block into an outdoor movie set.
Queens Community Board 1 approved on Tuesday a proposal by Kaufman Astoria Studios to de-map 36th St., from 34th Ave. to 35th Ave., and then lease the space from the city. The block sits beside the Kaufman complex.
But not everyone was pleased with the board's decision. Some locals said the closure would increase traffic congestion and vowed to oppose the plan.
"We're going to take the fight to the borough president's office," said Brian Beard, president of the Long Island City Alliance, a community group.
Beard said traffic problems will get worse, especially from Northern Blvd. to the Queensboro Bridge. It could also make dropping off kids at nearby schools difficult, he said.
Astoria resident Ron Vega, 52, said he also opposes the plan, noting there are already problems when the studio temporarily closes streets for filming. A permanent closure will make the situation even worse, he said.
"When I tell you from my heart that this is a bad idea, I hope you take it into consideration," Vega implored the board.
Studio President Hal Rosenbluth said the street closure will actually be good for the area and noted that emergency vehicles will be allowed to drive through the block.
Having an outdoor set, similar to ones in Los Angeles, will make the studio more competitive and able to land additional major productions, Rosenbluth said. And those films, TV shows and commercials can translate into local jobs and increased business for area merchants.
"It sustains the economic growth we've created," he said. "The neighborhood is going to be very happy in the end."
The proposal would allow the studio to lease the block from the city through 2049, said city Economic Development Corp. spokeswoman Julie Wood.
I thought they were leaving because the tax credits ran out.