Hot prop-erty: Downtown prop warehouse needs loading zone to stay in business

Photo by Bill Egbert Errol Murad, owner of American Foliage, says accommodating his need for a loading zone would be as simple as extending an existing zone for a nearby hotel just a couple of dozen feet to his storefront.

Photo by Bill Egbert
Errol Murad, owner of American Foliage, says accommodating his need for a loading zone would be as simple as extending an existing zone for a nearby hotel just a couple of dozen feet to his storefront.

BY COLIN MIXSON

A prop warehouse that has dressed sets for “The Sopranos” and “Sex in the City” ditched its 22nd Street digs in Chelsea for a new home on Downtown’s Ann Street last week, and while the new space is half the rent, the business needs city permission to install a loading zone on the narrow roadway to make it work, according to Errol Murad, owner of American Foliage.

“We’re talking about union trucks coming and dropping off all the time, and they don’t want to get tickets for double-parking every time they come,” said Murad. “If we don’t get a loading zone soon, it will start to hurt our business.”

American Foliage specializes in selling and renting plants, fake or live, to film and television productions, in addition to decorating special events like weddings and bar mitvahs.

The prop warehouse lists work with films “I am Legend,” “X-men,” “The Last Samurai,” and the “Spiderman” trilogy in its credits, and is currently working with ongoing productions of TV thriller “The Blacklist,” political drama “Madame Secretary,” and “Elementary,” a re-envisioned Sherlock Holmes detective show.

The new space, which has been vacant since print shop Nova Graphics moved to Brooklyn in 2015, is about half the size of the prop store’s former 22nd Street location, and finding space for all the green stuff has been part of the trick in making the Downtown location work.

“To say the least, it’s been a little hairy,” Murad said.

But the main challenge is helping production vehicles find loading space on narrow Ann Street, where parking has been turned over to the commercial vehicles working the numerous construction sites along the roadway.

“This block is really narrow, number one, and there’s no parking,” said Murad. “Everything’s filled up before we even get here in the morning.”

The city hasn’t gotten back to Murad about his request, but he’s found a champion in Community Board 1’s Vice Chairman Paul Hovitz, who has begun pressing the Department of Transportation to expedite permits for the loading zone.

Ann Street is already too clogged up with work trucks and traffic coming out of the nearby Hawthorn School to allow production trucks to double park along the thin strip of pavement there, Hovtiz said.

“It has multiple issues,” he said.

And Hovitz also seems to get a kick out of having the prop warehouse in the neighborhood, and would be sad to see it go, he said.

“I think it adds to the ongoing fun and games Downtown,” Hovitz said.

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One Response to Hot prop-erty: Downtown prop warehouse needs loading zone to stay in business

  1. Thank you Colin for the nice article. I have high hopes for the property and this exposure helps “push” the city in the right direction. With all the empty spaces around the city, my request is not unreasonable to keep us in Manhattan. The “vibe’ at this location is wonderful and the neighbors who pass by are intrigued by what we do. I believe we are really good for the neighborhood.
    regards
    Errol

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