Beekman Theatre To Close?
posted by doines on December 29, 2004 at 8:05 am
NEW YORK, NY — We received the following email from “CineMan”: “Clearview Cinemas has received notice from their landlord that their lease at the Beekman Theatre will terminate in June 2005. The entire block is scheduled to be redeveloped. This will be a huge loss in Manhattan movie-going.”
What horrific news, especially in the wake of all the recent (i.e., within the last 7-10 years) Midtown East movie theatre shutterings; does anyone know who the landlord for the Beekman (and the entire block, for that matter) is?
I am saddened… not so much that the Beekman would be closing (which would very much be a horrible loss to New York cinema), but at my own lack of surprise hearing this announcement. So many older non-megaplex theatres have closed in the past few years here, what’s one more?
First the Sutton and now the Beekman. If real estate redevelopment is inevitable, can’t anyone figure out how to build around the theatre and keep it intact? The orignal concept for Symphony Space on the Upper West Side was to integrate the Symphony theatre into the new structure. I’m not sure that that was the actual result, but the concept deserves exploration. Just what Second Ave. needs, a new faceless tower to add to the congestion.
Sure, ‘someone’ could figure out how to build a tower around and above an existing building (and this WAS successfully done in the case of Symphony Space). The fact of the matter is, a good number of property owners are lazy, unimaginative, and cheap in the wrong places and, as a result, figure it’s just easier to demolish whatever property lies in the way of their grand plans and simply ignore the preceding public outcry. Maybe things will be different in the case of the Beekman – at least I sure in hell hope they are; it tears my heart out whenever I walk or pass by or near the former Sutton 1 & 2 site when I think of the greed that resulted in that particular theatre being reduced to a pile of rubble due to the whims and desires of one of the many bottom-line-obsessed real estate developers who only see and dream in the color green – and, maybe if we have enough lead time, they CAN be different; we’ll just have to see… and act as soon and as effectively and cohesively as possible…
THIS REALLY SUCKS.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Beekman, it is a gorgeous and unique theater compared to today’s cookie-cutter megaplexes. The seats are wide and comfortable and the auditorium sends a signal of warmth and welcoming. The Beekman programs a mix of mainstream and “art” films reflecting the sophistication of its Upper East Side audience. Loss of the Beekman will be a catastrophe for those who believe movie-going should be something special.
The landlord is NYU. They want to build a new hospital facility on the site.
Can ANYTHING be done? What? Landmarks commission? What can anyone do? NYC needs someone like Jackie Kennedy these days. She would’ve been horrified at the loss of The Sutton.
Anyone know what can be done?
According to the web site of the NYC Landmarks Commission(http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/), the Landmarks Law (not sure if this is a city, state, or federal law) states that, to be designated, “a potential landmark must be at least 30 years old and must possess ‘a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, state, or nation.’” The general process includes the submittal of a Request for Evaluation form (http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/pdfs/designation/request_for_evaluation.pdf), accompanied by relevant material of the property (photos, slides, etc.) for which landmark designation is being sought; an evaluation of the submitted materials by an RFE committee, consisting of the Chairman of the Landmarks Commission, the Executive Director, the Chief of Staff, the Director of Research, and other agency staff members who evaluate the submitted material and subsequently make a determination of the request; a vote by the Designation Committee (consisting of five LC commissioners) should the request be deigned worthy of further consideration; and several additional steps, all of which are detailed on the main site’s FAQ page.
Well, I’m no architect but in my opinion, The Beekman’s not much from the outside BUT that didn’t stop Onassis from getting Landmark status for the Lever Building on Park Ave. Now that one is revered as one of the finest examples of modernist architecture. If for no other reason other than that all the small, theaters are fast disappearing from Manhattan, The Beekman should be at least submitted for consideration.
Can anyone do this? Or do you have to be on some kind of board?
I’m lucky that I don’t live on the East Side of Manhattan anymore – would sorely miss the Beekman, Sutton, Plaza, Fine Arts, 68th St Playhouse, Coronet & Baronet even the Manhattan Twins of my youth…What’s equally stressful is that developers and cinema operators and zoners can’t get together to give the Upper East Side a good stadium seating megaplex that would give the neighborhood what it needs – access to a variety of mainstream and art house programming…Much as I miss the old single screen theatres as a concept, there seems to be some exciting work done outside NY by companies such as Muvico and Rave…I live in London now – neighborhoods here were severely underscreened for years forcing us into the West End into grand but not necessarily comfortable theatres…We now have a 12 screen Vue (ex Warner Village) which does do a solid mix of mainstream and art house programming in stadium seating – I’ve seen everything from Anchorman and Open Range and The Bourne Supremacy to The Motorcycle Diaries to Garden State and I Heart Huckabees there. This said we did go to the West End last night to see The Aviator where it was in on an exclusive in the Vue multiplex there – 2 screens with stadium and wide screen ( a great experience) and 2 smaller screens (probably not so great)
I’m a keen once a day reader of this sight but something tells me we should be fighting for the higher cause – of the pleasure of seeing movies in cinemas with people and if megaplexes with good programming (and sound financing with mixed use facilities) are the future – then so be it.
Loved the Beekman but if NYU needs to make it into a hospital then Mazel Tov
Manhattan already has an excess of hospital beds. In addition as a not-for-profit entity, by building a medical facility, it removes a prime real estate site from the tax rolls. Most medical building nowadays involves some degree of government funding. By closing the Beekman, we loose a movie theater, we lose a tax producing real estate parcel, and we lose government funding that could be used elsewhwere. Let NYU assemble anothere site sopmewhere else – I’m sure that the Bronx would welcome them.
Are you sure that New York University owns that property? That doesn’t make sense. It would seem to me that it would be owned by New York Presbyterian Hospital, or Memorial Sloan-Kettering, since they are closer. Many people confuse New York Presbyterian (the old New York Hospital) with New York University Hospital.
All concerned people should contact the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to express outrage over the potential loss of the Beekman Theater. Request the LPC to designate the Beekman Theater as a New York City landmark. Landmark status will prevent demolition of the building and still allow for a potential expansion of the hospital over the theater. Every letter or email helps.
Robert B. Tierney, Chair
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Please contact Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts for more information.
Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts
20 East 60th Street, #4B
NY, NY 10021