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Sorry…my sarcasm meter must be on the fritz. I think Patrick Thompson encased it in glass.
“Big deal”? “Big deal”? Who ARE you people???
Oh, puh-lease! Where are you new guys suddenly coming from? I don’t mean to seem rude, but could you take the time to actually read some of what has already been posted before jumping in?
I have vivid memories from my childhood of when the New York Post was actually a “newspaper” rather than simply a venue for unadulterated public relations crap from developers. What a load!
I still don’t understand why it is “too late” for the Keith’s Flushing. Is Flushing any less in need or less deserving of a community performing space than are any of those other communities? I suppose you could say “yes” to the latter, since it appears the immediate community has never generated much support or enthusiasm for the restoration effort. Is the auditorium so completely beyond repair that any thought of restoration is unrealistic? Not according to the numerous reports posted above, which indicate many of the architectural details either remain or could be recreated using the detailed architectural drawings that exist. Is it absolutely essential that the auditorium be demolished in order to do anything with this site? The article quotes Council member Koo as saying the community is dismayed by the building’s “abhorrent” condition. But since nobody can even see what it looks like inside, what makes its condition a problem is that it is an entire block of empty, boarded up stores with a facade that has been systematically dismantled. Is it completely beyond anyone’s architectural and structural engineering capabilities to utilize the air rights above the auditorium without actually demolishing the auditorium? Is the extra effort and expense that would entail so totally outrageous that there is no possible way it could be achieved, or is it simply that it’s easier and cheaper to knock it down? The building has already sat empty for decades; why is it necessary that construction begin now, when the economic and real estate climate is at such an all-time low that anything requiring added expense is laughed at? Would it not be possible to build above and around the theater, leaving its rehabilitation for a time when there are more resources? I’m asking these questions because I’m not sure where the “it’s too late” verdict is suddenly coming from.
Gee…“a digital film’s 1000th viewing is as crisp as the first showing but…film offers a ‘certain warmth and flicker’…” sounds amazingly like what they were saying when music CDs came out about 25-30 years ago; now vinyl is making a comeback and people have long complained about a lack of “warmth” in digital recordings. The more things change…
While not clarifying reasons for the theater’s closing once again, the LoHud article does shed light on the theater’s opening, saying, “The theater was not an original tenant at the 27-year-old mall, but it opened after just a few years. It was one of Yorktown’s two movie theaters until the Triangle Theater in Yorktown Heights closed in 1989.” That would confirm shoeshoe’s post above saying it opened in 1986.
BTW, the “Yorktown’s only theater” thing is a bit overblown, since the Cortlandt Town Center, while not in Yorktown, is only four miles away on Route 6.
I agree about fencing off and demolition probably coming soon. The new Jo-Ann’s in the former Walgreen’s location is scheduled to open in a few weeks, with the current store now engaged in a Store Closing Sale. (It’s odd to me that they’re calling this a “store closing” rather than a “moving sale” but they seem to do everything by set corporate templates.) One interesting note: the Jo-Ann mailer announcing the closing sale still lists the location as Caldor Shopping Center! Not sure if that shows how out-of-touch Jo-Ann’s management is with their individual locations, or if it confirms that the entity with legal title to which they pay rent is still Caldor, i.e., Dorcal.
In terms of the scope of this site, status of the Fine Arts Theatre will undoubtedly change from Closed to Demolished in the near future. It was only open for about 30 years, has sat empty and deteriorating for about 10, and cannot be said to have been terribly architecturally distinguished or memorable, other than to those who spent hours there watching movies and/or experiencing personally meaningful moments within its walls. So for all of them, we say Fine Arts Theater, R.I.P.
Nice job! Thanks for the photo credit!
(Though some of your captions do go by kind of quick…)
You were correct — Dorothy Bennett died May 2, 2008.
Yes, Dorcal — opposite of Caldor — was their real estate management arm. From what I recall, they owned quite a bit of property, even beyond many of the original Caldor locations. I had not heard that Dorothy died, however; will also look that up.
I wonder if any of the other Caldor shopping centers contained movie theaters? This one may be unique in that regard.
So Carl and Dorothy Bennett DO still own that center! That’s what I thought. Kind of explains how they’ve been able to let it sit so long with practically no revenue, since they undoubtedly have millions. But they’ve got to be in their 90s now. Don’t know who’s actually running things.
It’s also odd that there used to be enough water when the center was fully occupied. Undoubtedly the problem is all the other development that’s taken place up and down Federal Road since then.
Yes, there was a sign in front of Shop Rite Plaza a couple of weeks ago announcing Jo-Ann was coming — I assume in the former Walgreen’s space.
I doubt the laundromat has a long-term lease, or even a lease, but people still have to do their laundry, so it will probably hang on until they start to bulldoze the place — which I also assume is what’s coming. Though I wonder if the Town of Brookfield will insist they shut down and fence off the whole thing rather than have to police it to ensure the safety of the few customers in an otherwise abandoned shopping center, even if there is an active Kohl’s right next door.
Another pledge to fully restore… the lobby. Rest of the theater? Not so much.
Oh, this sounds bad. Despite setting up a new corporation called Northern RKO, LLC, specifically to make this purchase and saying â€œthe goal is to build something reflecting the magnificence of the old Keithâ€™s for Flushing,â€ the new owner has two condo projects currently under development. Probably the only “reflection” of the magnificent old Keith’s will be a mirror in what’s left of the lobby.
I took some photos of the shopping center exteriors back in February, and just got around to posting them. One shows the north end, with the Fine Arts and its neighboring empty stores.
(Sorry, took them with my cell phone… quality isn’t great.)
Why can’t the Times ever just come out and stop glorifying these guys? It’s obvious from all the facts presented in the article that Boymelgreen is a crook, not “a Star of Real Estate”. The two scariest parts of the article are:
1. The claim that Boymelgreen “will develop the Queens theater site” which we thought was no longer his to develop; and
2. The closing comment, “They don’t stop, ever.” Heaven help us.
Yes, the picture on the screen DOES look superimposed — but the lot is full of cars, which leads me to wonder if the entire thing was staged.
There’s something very odd about that New York Times photo — it appears to have been taken during the day! How is that even possible??
Very interesting story. Of course, they’re getting $15 million in federal grants through the Louisiana Recovery Authority. Apparently we need a natural disaster before we can get any assistance, not simply a Huang-Boymelgreen disaster. Also, the deal details:
>>Under a deal inked in January, the Saenger Theatre Partnership donated the theater building to Canal Street Development Corp. In return, the management group will run the theater for 52 years, provided it hosts at least 80 shows a year at the 2,800-seat theater and sells 100,000 tickets annually. A portion of sales will be earmarked for rent and future capital improvements. In addition to live theater, the developers plan to use the Saenger for comedy shows, musical acts and movies.<<
Would it be possible to achieve a similar result here? Selling 100,000 tickets annually at a downtown theater in a tourist-attraction city is a lot more doable than selling tickets at a theater in Flushing that has to compete with an endless number of other venues in the city. The key, of course, is community support and involvement, which thus far has been sorely lacking. And obviously, it would make a lot of sense to include this redevelopment as part of the plan for Willets Point just down the street, but that kind of synergistic thinking seems beyond the abilities of city planners.
The realtor in that ad is apparently the same guy on the banner hanging from the building in the photo posted July 8 by SWCphotography.
That’s a wonderful editorial, though I question the idea that even if the old Playhouse building is preserved, it can be used for “new programming — plays, film, music and fine art.” Well, fine art, maybe… but the actual theater auditorium was long ago turned into bank offices.
p.s. Note an error in both the “About the old playhouse” at the bottom of the July 27, 2009 post above and in the initial timeline that I posted: the timeline says it closed in 1970 and the later post says it was remodeled as a bank in 1970. I know this is not possible, as I attended a movie at the Playhouse and could not possibly have done so prior to 1971 (in fact, I thought it was 1972). Also, the posts by the former manager and the brother of the former usher above both state they worked there until 1971.
Yes, the News-Times article is about the present Ridgefield Playhouse that I referred to in a note to the initial theater description. That one, the former high school auditorium, is described thusly in the article:
“The 500-seat Ridgefield Playhouse opened its doors in 2000. The old Ridgefield High School auditorium was restored to the Cass Gilbert Jr.-designed theater of its heyday. That restoration came from the generosity of many sponsors, two town funds, a state-awarded grant and more than 600 families and local businesses making donations.”
It’s interesting that even that high school auditorium has a great pedigree: designed by Cass Gilbert, Jr., the son of Cass Gilbert, famed architect who designed the Woolworth Building and the U.S. Supreme Court. The senior Gilbert had a house in Ridgefield (now the Keeler Tavern) and designed the town’s signature fountain at the intersection of Rt. 35 and 33. Gilbert Jr. was mainly known for working with his father and completing some of his projects, including the Supreme Court, after his death in 1934.
I had to watch it twice to catch the brief long shot of the Keith’s at the end of the street, at about :48 in. Had completely forgotten about Masters… is that the same store where Alexanders and then Caldor were later located? Also loved the Schaefer Beer train in a parade for kids…