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Nov 25, 2010
Supermarket May Be The Next Act At The Ridgewood Theatre
Moviehouse Sold To Jackson Heights Investors
by Robert Pozarycki
A new supermarket may soon be opening its doors at the historic and vacant Ridgewood Theatre.
The Times Newsweekly was informed on Wednesday morning, Nov. 24, that the former moviehouse on Myrtle Avenue between Madison Street and Putnam Avenue was recently purchased by a group of entrepreneurs based in Jackson Heights who plan to open an Associated supermarket at the location.
The exterior of the theater, located at 55-27 Myrtle Ave., was recently given landmark status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. It closed in March 2009 after serving as a multiplex theater for many years.
While the faÃ§ade and the marquee of the theater must remain as they are as a result of the landmark declaration, the new owners of the buildings may remodel the interior as they see fit, according to Paul Kerzner, incoming president of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association.
â€œI would dare say that they would have to level the floors inside the theater, otherwise everything would be on a 30-degree angle,â€ Kerzner told the Times Newsweekly in a phone interview. Local business and civic leaders with knowledge of the sale noted that they have yet to see any plans for what the new owners plan to do with the building.
Under existing zoning laws for the site, it was noted, a supermarket with up to 17,000 sq. ft. of retail space could be created within the theater.
Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, hoped that a deal could be struck with the new ownership to allow for the upper floors of the vacant theater to be used as a community exhibition space for artists. The idea was pitched originally by groups in Ridgewood and Bushwick during a walking tour of the former moviehouse in April and garnered some support among local leaders.
Overall, Kerzner expressed a favorable view of the purchase and potential development of an Associated supermarket at the Ridgewood Theatre.
â€œWe could have done a hell of a lot worse in terms of what could have gone in there,â€ he said, noting that among the ideas presented and rejected for the site included a charter school, a drug treatment counseling facility and condominiums.
â€œThis seems to be the best use. Itâ€™s actually helpful since there isnâ€™t a large supermarket in that end of Ridgewood,â€ Kerzner added. â€œIf they market it right, they can do very well.â€
This paper attempted to contact the attorney representing the supermarket developers on Wednesday morning, but the lawyer was not available for comment before press time.
John D. has had some great suggestions. The facade has been landmarked, but the interior is in limbo. Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre is in the process of working with Ridgewood organizations, citywide and statewide preservation organizations, electeds, and we are reaching out to the owner & calling for a meeting. Creative & adaptive reuse is not impossible, and has been conducted successfully nearby. For example, the former bank on Myrtle Ave became a Rite Aid, and they preserved the period features. Tax credits, grants, and other financial benefits are also available in this case, if the owner is interested in benefiting from this. I will continue to post updates.
MikeZZ & AprilY, you have your facts wrong. Yes, I will make this publicly known, since fairness is fairness when it comes to credit. You were not there. I was. Check the date of the submitted research. File for a Freedom Of Information Law request. I only “bash” those who are incorrect and deliberate. You are only taking the reporter’s word since they work for a major newspaper, and the LPC is a comrade. They want more coverage in a major newspaper. The Daily News took the facts from my press release as Chairman of Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre. He was fed information and made no mention of the spearheading party. I know the truth, and don’t wish to discuss this further.
We are calling for a meeting with new owner Tony Guzman involving restorative funding & creative adaptive reuse, along the lines of other theaters and banks: View link
Please feel free to post comments on the blog site.
MikeZZ: Let me clarify further. On behalf of a consortium of Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre (as chair), the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance, and Rego-Forest Preservation Council, in March 2008, I was indeed first to submit a Request For Evaluation form, an accompanying research paper tracing the architectural and cultural history and its endangered status, and vintage movie ads and photos to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. The LPC and Nick Hirshon of the Daily News are comrades, and that is why one takes and the other gives credit. True that all journalists were helpful, but initial credit is due where it deserves accordingly. If you do not believe me, file for a FOIL (Freedom Of Information Law) request with the LPC, and you will see the archives including all submitted information on the Ridgewood Theatre to date. There is a difference between journalism and historic preservation.
Now onto more important matters, directly relating to the current status of the Ridgewood Theatre…
John, you have communicated great ideas. I have had some of the same thoughts, and would like to speak with you. Can you please e-mail me at
Mikezz, AprilY and others:
As Chair of Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre & Queens VP of the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance, I learned the news of the Ridgewood Theatre’s slated supermarket transformation earlier in the week, prior to the publishing of the Daily News article. The truth is that the owners knew of a potential investor and performing arts party that have been in touch with me, but the owners wanted to proceed with a quick sale, against the wishes of the immediate and widespread community. You may recall articles in 2008 and 2009, where co-owners Tony Montalbano and Mario Saggese vowed to maintain the theater’s architecture, regardless of its intended use. Tony Montalbano said “We wouldn’t do anything to hurt the community.” They seem to have given up, and walked away from the community.
We plan on calling a meeting with the new owner(s) and encouraging preservation of the interior, where a great percentage of early Adamesque features by Thomas Lamb remains, despite being multiplexed until recently. We have seen cases where stores preserved interiors of theaters. The owner(s) may be eligible for various grants and tax credits if they proceeded in historically-sensitive restoration and renovation plans.
Also, AprilY’s comment calls for a clarification. As Chair of Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre in conjunction with other organizational affiliations, I was first to submit a Request For Evaluation for and extensive research to the Landmarks Preservation Commission in March 2008, right afteer the theater’s closure, to preserve the theater’s architecture and culture conveyed for posterity. The Daily News wrote an article, on the basis of my organization press release. The Daily News never submitted written research or led the advocacy cause. There is a difference between a historic preservation campaign and journalism.
The Ridgewood Theatre is a great architectural example of the Adamesque style. It was one of Thomas Lamb’s earliest designs, and yet proved successful. In sum, it is rare. It does not have to be a very elaborate example to be deemed historic, although there are intricate features within. Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre is seeking investors. Let’s remain hopeful and do all we can before it is too late.
Talk about nothing? I founded Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre when the theater shuttered suddenly in March 2008, and I am spearheading the cause to preserve and creatively reuse this early and great work by Thomas W. Lamb, America’s foremost theater architect. The facade’s landmarking has been achieved after 2 years, and now we are doing all we can to help the owners either find a new party to sell it to, find tenants, or partners. Hopefully, performing arts with community spaces. Please forward this appeal to all your friends who may be able to help this noble cause. It takes a few minutes. Thank you!
John, here is my feedback:
Item 1: This is a major theater designed by Thomas Lamb, being that it is one of his earliest, where he experimented with a number of styles, and it proved successful.
Item 2: Very true
Item 3: I am aware that in April 2010, a tour was given of the theater’s auditorium, which was formerly multiplexed. One would think that in order to accommodate the multiplexing, the authentic and rare Adamesque features would have been destroyed, but many features remain to the public’s astonishment, although not in the best condition. I have seen photos in the Times NewsWeekly. Any restoration is a labor of love, and volunteers should be recruited, as in the case of Loews Jersey and the Beacon Theatre. Banks can serve as benefactors too. A treasure was unearthed, so we feel strongly that it shouldn’t be compromised now after awaiting rediscovery for decades. We have a greater chance of preservation if we urge parties to respect and restore the rare surviving auditorium. The last thing we want is a banal box.
TLSLOEWS, please visit the Facebook Group for Friends of he Ridgewood Theatre, which I created in 2008. Also, visit us on flickr, which links to it via Facebook. We won landmarking the facade as a start. It became a reality on Jan 12, 2010, after 2 years worth of advocacy, due to the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s routine for this case. The owners or future parties would need to file for State and National Register of Historic Places status to help acquire grants and tax credits for restoration and upgrades. NYS Council of The Arts (Queens Council) and the National Endowment of The Arts can provide funding for programming in many cases. Let’s have faith. Please feel free to ask questions. My e-mail is
Has everyone seen photos of the extent of architectural detail that was revealed after the multiplexing was removed in the auditorium? It was “unearthing a treasure,” and now we can ask “Was it done only to be destroyed?” Thankfully, one of the earliest Thomas Lamb theater interiors extant citywide exists, although not in the best of state. Nothing is impossible to restore with some dedication and a visionary mind. There are uses for just about everything too. Volunteers can be recruited and there are grants available for acquisition costs and restoration through various programs. banks can serve as benefactors. If you know of performing arts organizations and film operators, as well as related art and cultural groups, please do YOUR part by reaching out, and putting us in touch. May “word of mouth” pay off.
Thank you! If you are friendly with any nearby arts, culture, or film organizations, please feel free to forward the appeal to them.
URGENT UPDATE!!!! PLEASE HELP IN ANY WAY YOU CAN! This entails the greater picture of our boroughs. Friends of the Ridgewood Theatre is seeking a historically-minded performing arts group &/or film operator ASAP, or the rare Adamesque interior by Thomas Lamb will be GONE FOREVER, & Queens and Brooklyn will be robbed of a true theater of great potential for emerging artists and NYC patrons. The outside is landmarked, but that is not enough. Please spread the word, and e-mail
These are some photos:
Also join the Facebook Group for Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre, & encourage your friends to by clicking on “invite people to join.” Its future is up to US!
Thank you for a very descriptive update. What you saw would be perplexing to just about anyone, except the owners.
A theater does not have to be the greatest theater in the world to be regarded as an official NYC landmark and a “cinema treasure.” Also, there are different ways of defining great. In our democratic society, the majority wins, and the Ridgewood Theatre is indeed a testament to vaudeville and film history, and was designed by one of the greatest theater architects that ever lived, Thomas W. Lamb. This is a case study, and with a creative vision, it could be granted a new lease on life to benefit the local and greater community.
I look forward to your assessment. Thank you, Peter!
Larry 2 sounds somewhat pessimistic, which makes one a defeatist. Let’s have some creativity and originality here, so it can fuel our efforts as preservationists and theater buffs.
P.S. Excuse the typo above.
This is the press September 14, 2010 press release from the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission:
That is a great idea! I will get in touch with the Committee To Save The Loews Kings, and will then consider reaching out to the Economic Development Corporation and any other appropriate parties.
Mike: Read its landmark designation report, and try to acknowledge and understand the larger picture…
Hope this helps!
Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre, Chair
Four Borough Preservation Alliance, Queens VP
Considering the style of the Daily News article, who can guarantee that the journalist has been inside the theater?
Thomas Lamb’s Adamesque architectural features were awaiting discovery, and the treasure was unveiled upon the removal of sheet rock and multi-plexing. Now, all of a sudden, it is in shambles. Ironic how it wasn’t that way in 2008 when the theater closed, for that sake. I smell a rat here.
Sounds cliche, but when there’s a will, there’s a way. Supporters of the Ridgewood Theatre’s preservation and reuse consists of a broad coalition, which I spearhead as Chair of Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre since the theater’s closure in 2008. We are still working with a few potential buyers and tenants. There are numerous historic theaters, where the multi-plexing has been removed, and the theaters were perhaps vacant for years, and then restored after substantial weathering. Staten Island’s Paramount Theatre is currently being restored, and they are doing a commendable job. Loew’s Paradise has been completely restored and was landmarked in 2006, and now reused for boxing, occasional performances, and a restaurant. Also consider the complete restoration and reuse of the Beekman Theatre in NYC as a performing arts center. A performing arts center could thrive in Ridgewood, considering the growing arts community locally and in Bushwick and Williamsburg. You mustn’t be a defeatist, but a proactive creative visionary.
Something is very unkosher in the Daily News interview. It is bizarre how usual preservationists such as Paul Kerzner and Ted Renz of Ridgewood, have even agreed that the theater auditorium is inn shambles. It was a fully operational theater in 2008, and since some multi-plexing was removed, to reveal plentiful early Thomas Lamb Adamesque features, so now it’s suddenly in shambles??? It was a treasure awaiting rediscovery after decades, and it would be a CRIME destroying it for any business that can open someplace else.
Check out these photos in the Times NewsWeekly from April 2010, and tell me what you think: View link