RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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Showing 251 - 275 of 1,281 comments

Jeffrey1955 on July 13, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Sorry again; this seems like deja vu. I must be developing fatal degradation of my sarcasm meter.

BobbyS on July 13, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Of course I was not serious about being happy with the lobby plans. I read all of the earlier posts. But then again, no lobby at all would be worse. Loved your Roxy photos Ed Solero!

Jeffrey1955 on July 13, 2011 at 9:58 pm

More like Thomas Huang failed in his attempt to completely destroy the theater…he was stopped before he could finish the job, and had to settle for mortally wounding it.

BobbyS, I trust you are not seriously happy that “the ornate lobby will be saved and restored!” Go back and read some of the earlier discussion about what that actually entails.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 13, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Thomas Huang “failed at [his] attempt to revamp” the theater?!? More like he successfully torpedoed any hope that the entire structure would ever be returned to viability in its original form!!! Vandalism, is what it was.

BobbyS on July 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm

LuisV, thanks for the update. I was wondering what was happening on the site. I guess we should be happy the ornate lobby will be saved and restored!

LuisV on July 13, 2011 at 2:33 pm

The Condo Plan has received Final Approval. Construction to start by the end of the year. It still calls for the “ornate lobby to be preserved”.

Developer gets final approval to transform landmarked Queens theater into condos July 13, 2011 04:30PM

RKO Keith’s Theater Having just received the final approval from the Board of Standards and Appeals, developer Patrick Thompson is moving ahead with plans to turn the landmarked RKO Keith’s Theater in downtown Flushing, Queens into a 17-story, 357-unit residential rental complex, according to Crain’s.

“I am very delighted and look forward to starting construction,” Thompson said.

At the close of last year, Thompson submitted his plans to the board, which included a modification of plans that had been submitted by its previous owner. The new proposal included increasing the number of units from 200, increasing parking spaces inside the building to 385 from 229 and increasing the retail square footage to 17,000 from 11,000, according to Crain’s.

“This long-neglected site is finally on the road to rebirth as a mixed-used development that will provide much needed housing and a senior center,” Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said. “From the 1920s to the 1980s, when it was vacated, the RKO Keith was a major entertainment Mecca for everything from vaudeville shows to motion pictures.”

Thompson is the third in a string of developers that have taken on the site. Two previous owners — Thomas Huang and Shaya Boymelgreen — failed in their attempts to revamp it.

Thompson expects to start construction by the end of the year. [Crain’s]

JeffM55 on June 4, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Okay, it’s getting spooky. Somebody complains about the order of the comments, and they get switched. Somebody complains about the lead photo, and it gets changed. It’s almost like somebody in authority is MONITORING this page… or could it be this is the place where wishes come true? Hm…that gives me an idea…

It sure would be nice if that stupid condo plan was dropped and somebody committed a lot of money to rehab the whole theater! (Oh, and it would also be nice if cash would start shooting out of my computer…)

JeffM55 on June 3, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Interesting concept from the former BP: a “cancer” that, instead of growing, seems to continually shrink.

SWCphotography on June 3, 2011 at 7:42 pm

The relief sculpture face is from the de-landmarked auditorium, actually one of many surviving details in a space advertised as having nothing left; a convenient thought if believe as the former BP does:“The RKO Keith’s has been like a cancer in downtown Flushing forever”.

BobbyS on June 3, 2011 at 7:36 am

Tinseltoes, you are 100% right about the photo of the wall decoration. Also right about reading a book backwards! “You are right on the money”.

JeffM55 on June 2, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Actually, not a board game, but a game with which I am bored. Haven’t watched it in a while.

JeffM55 on June 2, 2011 at 9:02 am

Tinseltoes, clearly you are not a fan of Jeopardy!

BobbyS on June 2, 2011 at 7:28 am

I was in Ny last week and once again we flew over the remains of the Keiths. It looked grim. But I thought of all the beauty inside from all of your pictures just waiting to be brought back to life.

SWCphotography on June 2, 2011 at 6:45 am

Yes I too jumped to conclusions, after only seeing the first page of the site (one gets used to only hearing bad news about the Keith’s). I thought Cinema Treasures was only going to have a first page – kind of like a cover sheet – that would be preserved, followed by 17 pages of real estate rental listings. In a parallel to the theatre itself I was assuming there could never possibly be anything of value by looking further.

JeffM55 on May 31, 2011 at 10:27 am

Ed, you’re right — I take it back. If I scroll back far enough, there are photos… I thought there were photos more recently than that, so I didn’t see them. And it turns out the links ARE there, they just don’t appear in different color type the way they used to (at least, in Google Chrome) so I didn’t realize they were live links.

Change is sometimes hard to get used to for us old fogies. (OK, so I’M the old fogey.) Scrolling back multiple pages takes some getting used to…but I guess it’s a decent tradeoff for not having to wait forever for one whole endless page of comments and photos to load!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 31, 2011 at 9:35 am

Jeff and SWC… have to agree with Bway. Appears that all the links are still working fine and the photos that were embedded in the comments are still visible as well. As Bway said, you have to view all comments and page through to find the older posts with embedded pics.

When I first read SWC’s comment, I thought maybe the new website design would not allow embedded photos (since they have always been against the site comment policy), but I can still view them same as before. Perhaps your browser requires updating for the site to load properly? Just a thought.

As for any other complaints or issues (such as no “new comment” box when viewing all comments), I think Patrick and Ross are open to suggestions for improving the new site. I may offer a few comments myself with regards to minor issues like that. The forum for that would probably be the “Cinema Treasures relaunch” article in the Blog section of the site.

JeffM55 on May 31, 2011 at 8:02 am

Bway, not sure what you’re talking about. Even when I view all comments, I’m not seeing any of the photos or links. And I had to create a new identity to get in, because the site refuses to recognize my old one. (And my last comment stating this was deleted!)

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 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 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:
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 on April 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm

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

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 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 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.