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Detours caused by ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ filming prompt negative reviews

Albert Moore likes the novelty of having “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2” action scenes filmed in his neighborhood, but doesn’t appreciate the loss of parking by his home on Humboldt Parkway.

Mike Andrzejewski, a restaurateur and chef, thinks the filming of a major motion picture is good for the city, too. But he isn’t happy about the loss of business at his restaurants that he blames on the closing of Kensington Expressway during prime evening hours.

While many people are glad to see Buffalo serve as the backdrop for a Hollywood film, they’re also having to deal with the inconvenience of being rerouted, awakened by loud explosions, the loss of parking and – in some cases – vanishing customers.

“Business at the Sea Bar has dropped 25 percent, and it’s down at the Bourbon and Butter, and at Tappo,” Andrzejewski said. “A couple of people canceled reservations, saying they’d only come back when the filming ended.

“It’s cool for Buffalo, and I’m all for this kind of stuff, or offering film companies incentives from the state,” Andrzejewski added, referring to a 40 percent tax credit for film production in Western New York. “There just needs to be a more cohesive effort not to screw the guys who make a living every day down here.”

Rocco R. Termini, the developer who co-owns Tappo, said it was a question of fairness.

“The people who have businesses downtown are here year-round,” Termini said. “We suffered through the worst winter in the past decade, when nobody left their homes. The sun comes out, and what do we do as a city? We close down the 33, the northern entrance to downtown, when 70 percent of the people live north.

“That is the main artery to get downtown, and by blocking it, you’re creating a heart attack. I just hope the patient can survive.”

Both men blamed television news for making matters worse. Viewers are being told that a major route to the city is blocked off from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. daily without presenting alternatives, they said.

It’s the stretch of Route 33 between the Scajaquada Expressway (Route 198) and Elm Street that is affected, with detours posted.

The movie is expected to put between $7 million and $9 million into the local economy. The production is using about 150 vendors and 150 local hires, and has booked 3,337 total hotel room nights for its more than 200 traveling crew members, according to the Buffalo Niagara Film Office.

None of the movie’s actors or the Ninja Turtles themselves are part of the local filming, which is supposed to become about five minutes on the screen when the movie is released in June 2016.

Paramount Pictures, the movie studio producing the film, has been praised for its outreach efforts. The Masten District, where the filming is taking place, had not received a single complaint as of Wednesday, according to an intern for Common Council Majority Leader Demone A. Smith, who represents the district.

The movie studio distributed fliers weeks before the shooting began, advising nearby homeowners of the car chases, helicopters and explosions to come.

Willette Karemba-Brown, site manager for Gethsemane Manor, a senior citizens home on Humboldt Parkway across from the Kensington, said Paramount representatives visited the facility to explain what would be taking place, and emailed her when they learned she was out.

Moore said he received the same flier. He likes having a movie filmed across from his home. He does not like the traffic cones preventing parking for blocks on end along Humboldt Parkway.

Lt. Jeffrey Rinaldo said closing the Kensington has run smoothly each night since Monday, when filming began.

“Traffic seems to be pretty light on those days, in terms of the traffic that’s still on the 33 when the closure is taking place,” Rinaldo said. “Basically, every night, we send officers to run the detour routes and check with Cheektowaga PD in terms of traffic issues they are experiencing, and to date, there have been none.”

Tim Clark, commissioner of the Buffalo Niagara Film Office, said that only a few complaints had been received by the Buffalo Police Department and the city’s 311 line since filming started.

Mark D. Croce, who owns several downtown restaurants and bars, said he expected negative economic consequences, but at the same time defended the decision to film the movie in Buffalo.

“Businesses are being affected, and not only mine. I wouldn’t say dramatically, but we anticipate an effect,” Croce said. “But in the interest of bringing more economic benefits and exposure to Western New York, I’m not against it.”

Brian J. Mietus, who owns Bacchus Restaurant, said he expected more business because of the film workers from out of town. “What I expect to see is the opposite, because all the hotels are full, and our proximity to them works out great,” Mietus said.

The filming in Buffalo is also attracting some heavy hitters in the movie business.

Former U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, was expected to attend Thursday night’s film shoot with Reps. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, and Chris Collins, R-Clarence. Also in town is Teamsters leader Thomas J. O’Donnell, who directs the union’s Motion Picture and Theatrical Trades Division.

email: msommer@buffnews.com

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