Group forms to help neglected RKO Keith’s
FLUSHING, QUEENS, NY — Flushing’s Landmark RKO Keith’s Theatre is once again in the spotlight, an amazing, 23 years after its closure. This is the result of a bursting of the real estate bubble and the formation of a grassroots organization “Friends of the RKO Keith’s Flushing,” which managed to gather an also amazing 1,000+ membership in the first week of its conception.
Formed one short month ago, on the initiative of former Flushing resident and RKO neighbor, Ed Tracey. The group has tapped into a wellspring of interest, extending beyond Flushing’s boundaries, to include former residents and many others, who have attended graduations, dance classes, concerts or saw classic films at the theatre, in addition to current residents who see the potential of this venue. All this suggesting that the former show palace represents something much more than just another inert landmark.
The building located at 135-27 Northern Boulevard, Flushing Queens is now for sale again after the failure by the current owner to develop the site as a 19 story luxury condominium. Faced with the reality of a lasting and depressed real estate market, the survival of any developer is questionable and the sale of this property at a profit is extremely unlikely. Flushing may be left holding a foreclosed property, with little to show for those 23 years of vacancy.
Ironically, among Flushing’s landmarks: The Bowne House, Quaker Meeting House (being restored), Kingsland Homestead, Latimer House and Town Hall, only the RKO site and shell structure has the location and size as is to become a revenue generating event center. The “Friends of the RKO Keith’s Flushing” seek to preserve the entire building and give it a purpose in keeping with its storied past. The RKO Keith’s is the only surviving show palace built with the inside designed to look as if one were outside in a courtyard, with an almost planetarium like ceiling, making Thomas Lamb’s design not only a landmark, but an architecturally unique structure.