RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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Showing 226 - 250 of 1,379 comments

Bway
Bway on May 31, 2011 at 12:36 am

SW, all the links and photos are fine, you just have to click “view all comments” now to see older comments. One quirk I did find though is that if you are reading comments on one of the pages that then comes up, there is no box at the bottom to make a new comment which is a bit odd. You have to go all the way back to the original page to make a comment.

SWCphotography
SWCphotography on May 2, 2011 at 9:45 pm

It was fully landmarked on 2/28/84
It was de-landmarked on 7/12/84 by the Board of Estimate at the behest of Donald Manes as a favor to Huang(in 1984 he was voted “Man of the Year” by the Queens Chamber of Commerce). The BOE was declared unconstitutional and dissolved in 1986, that same year the RKO was sold to Thomas Huang.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 1, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Isn’t it remarkable that with all that stunning architecture still intact, and only a cheap wall down the middle downstairs and false stage in the balcony dividing the spaces (easily reversible), that this theatre was not awarded full interior and exterior landmark designation? Amazing how easily corruptible the system is and how easily strings can be pulled to determine the outcome of what would seem to be a no-brainer review and consideration. Absolutely criminal and tragic.

SWCphotography
SWCphotography on May 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Views of the interior (January 1982) and exterior (April 1982} of the RKO from the New York Landmarks Conservancy files can be found at:
[url]http://www.oprhp.state.ny.us/hpimaging/hp_view.asp?GroupView=7409[/url]
In the last view you can see relief faces in the detail plaster work over each spiral column. In Matt’s photo of the same area you can see they have been specifically removed (absconded, crated and in the theatre somewhere?)

SWCphotography
SWCphotography on April 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm

To quote the developer:
“It’s still a challenging marketplace for lending,”

SWCphotography
SWCphotography on April 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm

You’re right about one thing Luis: it’ll never happen as long as the current developer owns the property.

WilliamMcQuade
WilliamMcQuade on April 23, 2011 at 8:00 am

I agree

When Manes killed the Triboro. the stage was set for the Keiths. In NY, it is all about money. The theater was sold as the company that owned it saw a good deal. You can not fault them for that. The fault lies with Manes & the city for being lax. Our elected officials were worthless. The damage done to the theater is too massive. I loved the Keith but give it a decent burial & let it die in peace instead of keeping it on life support. Saving the Keiths is a nice dream but it is time to wake up and smell the coffee.

LuisV
LuisV on April 23, 2011 at 7:31 am

Jeffrey1955…It is no contradiction. It makes perfect sense. As gas prices continue to go up (and they will) people will want and need to live in areas that are close to mass transit and companies will want to locate in paces where employees can commute using mass transit. It is why NY continues to grow in population and why Flushing will become a new center for deveopment. (fyi, the new Fulton Road development in Flushing just broke ground on Thursday).

As for the Keiths, Flushing is not a separate city. The Financial District in Manhattan is the third largest commercial district in the country and also the fastest growing residential population in the city, yet it doesn’t have a single theater. It doesn’t stop it from being a fantastic neighborhood.

The Keiths is an amazing structure, but as I’ve said on many other pages, a theater needs to have the funding for renovation AND have a plan to support itself afterwards. The Keiths has neither. Every other successful renovation has had this. Some have been churches like the Loew’s Gates, Loew’s Valencia, Loews 175th Street, The Stanley, The Elmwood. Some have been private investors who have converted the theaters to live theater or other entertainment venues like The Apollo, Loew’s Paradise, The Hollywood, The New Amsterdam. The St. George. The Kings was a combination of City incentives and a private developer (ACE Theatricals) with a plan to host 200 + events a year. The Brooklyn Paramount was converted to a gym and miraculously is fairly intact and hopefully will be fully restored at some point.

We can'’t MAKE a private developer put up tens of millions of dollars for a restoration without providing a mechanism for them to make their money back. $8MM for a restoration of the lobby is not ideal. We can’t turn back the clock and undo the damage down by that criminal Huang. A true restoration of this theater would likely cost over $60MM. Who is going to pay for that? The Kings is costing $70MM and the cost is being borne by the city and ACE theatricals. That is the city’s theater good deed for the next couple of years. The Keiths cannot hope to get money from City Hall.

I would love to see the Ketih’s brought back but I am a realist. There simply is no credible plan.

Jeffrey1955
Jeffrey1955 on April 23, 2011 at 12:03 am

Somehow I got dropped from update notifications and have missed all of these great photos and comments from the past month!
LuisV, I don’t understand how you can declare that the city will have a major growth spurt, with many more people staying closer to home because of the high price of gasoline, and Flushing will become the 5th downtown…yet simultaneously declare the Keith’s a lost cause! What kind of “downtown” will it be without a theater? It seems to me that your argument makes it even MORE important that there be a revitalized Keith’s! And all the more reason to argue for building in the airspace over it without destroying the theater — so that once all that money starts flowing in, it will be feasible to do a complete restoration.
I mean, if you’re going to dream, dream big!

BobbyS
BobbyS on April 22, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I hope you have a good life insurance policy. At least I hope your camera is insured especially climbing down fire escapes!!

SWCphotography
SWCphotography on April 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I saw no evidence of vermin when I was there, melting snow dripping through the ~6' dia. hole in the roof over the stage area was the only sound I heard. As William said: with a food source long gone… in 1986 maybe. I’d be more concerned with hooligans and the homeless. The best way in is to cross the Flushing Bay pedestrian bridge from Willets Point, then knock on the undulating glass door, after winding your way through 17,460 sq ft of retail space, find your way up to the third floor senior center, find a studio apartment occupied with several of the many “undocumented and uncounted by the census” people and ask to climb down their fire escape to the roof of an adjacent property, from there a short drop down will get you inside.

bazookadave
bazookadave on April 22, 2011 at 7:50 am

I fear no rodents but I am terrified of huge ugly juicy flying cockroaches.

WilliamMcQuade
WilliamMcQuade on April 22, 2011 at 4:06 am

You would be surprised. With their food source long gone they might not be that big of a problem.

BobbyS
BobbyS on April 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm

I would be on the lookout for rats if I were you. I bet they are really large and mean!

bazookadave
bazookadave on April 21, 2011 at 11:26 am

Matt, if i go to the theater with a camera can I just walk in or is there a secret side entrance?

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Tinseltoes – Thanks. I’ll update the post.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on April 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Matt, cloud machines at properly managed atmospheric theatres ran constantly, not just during intermissions. They were bright enough to create the illusion even when house lights were on.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I’ve never seen panoramic shots of the auditorium in decent exposure. It is actually in much better shape than I had thought from all the dark exposures I have seen to date.

lfreimauer
lfreimauer on April 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm

You have to realize that the generation of today, for the most part, could care less about the neigborhood theaters that existed years ago. They never knew what it was like, so they have no interest in it.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 20, 2011 at 10:55 am

I posted a blog post on my site containing many more pictures of the interior of the Keith’s. Check it out.

View link

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 18, 2011 at 3:28 am

The crates of auditorium artifacts are not in the building.

SWCphotography
SWCphotography on April 17, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Of course it’s not apples to apples but for money you’ve got:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Borough President Helen Marshall and some members of the borough’s City Council delegation helped break ground Tuesday on the Queens Museum of Art’s $65 million expansion project (actually repurposes the existing building).
The RKO got a bit of a break yesterday with the announced ground breaking of a huge new complex of 12 story buildings called “One Fulton Square” adding 63,000 sf of retail space, because the first spade to hit the ground makes all subsequent development more difficult. In the nest 3 years Flushing Commons adds 235,000 sf of retail. Sky View Center adds 800,000 (that’s $815M not the $185M I said before)sf of retail and the just opened New World Mall adds 165,000 sf of retail. Add the RKO’s assumed 17,460 sf of retail and you’ve got over 1,280,000 sf of retail space going into an area described by all as over crowded already (even by Helen).
The large tarped space in Matt’s picture of the foyer probably has the crates of auditorium artifacts shown in an earlier pic. The balcony structure and stairways are intact and would be among the largest cost drivers if they were missing.

BobbyS
BobbyS on April 17, 2011 at 8:23 pm

So sad to see these latest photos. The Jewel is fading fast…..

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 17, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Yes, the first photo is from the main floor of the auditorium. The second shot is of the lobby, they built some temporary offices in the center of it. I’ll be posting more photos later this week.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 17, 2011 at 7:50 pm

This photos absolutely tear my heart apart. Jeeze… is that first photo taken from under the balcony overhang looking at the bare orchestra floor? And the second shot appears to be the lobby ornamentation on the southern wall above the entry way from the street entrance foyer – is that some sort of construction shedding in front of it? The shot of the upper balcony also reveals all sorts of horrors perpetrated against the Moorish decor. God… and last time I saw a film at the Keith’s, it was in the balcony theater (a double feature of “A Boy and His Dog” and the documentary “Hells Angels Forever”) and I sat dead center in one of the first 5 rows – about where those 2 x 4’s are framed out in the last pic. Undoubtedly, a restoration project of the entire auditorium would be a pretty monumental undertaking that would require deep, deep pockets.

Simply heartbreaking!