Kings Theatre

1027 Flatbush Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11226

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JimRankin
JimRankin on November 21, 2004 at 6:15 am

I heard that Sears has just been bought by Kmart, so I’m not sure that there is that much hope for a “Sears Performing Arts Center” since Sears apparently never intended to pay for any restoration, else they would have done so by now. No wonder things haven’t progressed at the KINGS: the land is owned by someone with no theatre experience, and the building is owned by the city of Brooklyn which also is not in the theatres business. Let us hope that an ‘angel’ can be attracted to the place soon. Let us also hope that such an ‘angel’ will employ professional decorators and painters such as those works displayed by www.conradschmitt.com and not amateurs who may have been responsible for the VALENCIA’s recent garish decor paint.

JamieSomers
JamieSomers on November 20, 2004 at 3:31 pm

Oh, my gosh. Those pics are absolutely Fab!!!
I so, hope that they fix this place up. I’ll be like the first fashionably late person to make my entrance at the opening gala.
My girlfriends and I were volunteer painters with with this urban youth group that my Dad sponsored and we bought these color coordinated painting outfits that match each other (in different colors) to paint flowers and rainbows over grafitti in a Long Island elementary school playground. So since then we havent even used the outfits and I think that it is time for my friends and I to do some good deeds again. We would love to get our hands dirty.
Keep us posted and let us know when its time to roll!

uncleal923
uncleal923 on November 20, 2004 at 1:50 pm

Latest News from the poll, we are in second place.

uncleal923
uncleal923 on November 20, 2004 at 1:34 pm

Hopefully I will be able to get in touch with the person who wants this on Tuesday. We may have some Professors from Stony Brook University, where I am a returning student, interested.

GOOD NEWS, THE ROOF WAS REPAIRED! In other words, it’s no longer raining inside the theater. The building is owned by the city, who wants it restored if they can get the money. The land is owned by Sears, which has a store behind the theater. They want to change the name to the Sears Center for the Performing Arts.

Ziggy
Ziggy on November 19, 2004 at 1:38 pm

Bob F. I would love to email you. I do we exchange email addresses without giving them out to the entire CT site?

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on November 19, 2004 at 1:20 pm

Ziggy, I’ll be happy to offer any advice I can via e-mail. But, my days of volunteering and working in old theaters are far behind me!

Letters of support will accomplish a few things: good PR, and you can read them at council meetings and send them to local papers. That’s about it. We had several high profile ones for Loew’s Jersey (Jerry Lewis, Leonard Maltin, etc.) but they don’t save the theater. It certainly wouldn’t hurt Ms. Streisand to write one.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on November 19, 2004 at 1:06 pm

Maybe if someone from Brooklyn could get Barbra Streisand to at least send a letter of support for restoring the Kings in New York it might generate a lot of publicity for the theatre. Try and contact Neil Diamond who also went to school with Barbra. When I toured the historic theatres of New York a few years ago I was most impressed with Loew’s Kings even with the water damage. I regard the Kings as my favorite NYC theatre still standing. There is a rumor that Barbra and Neil may tour together in the near future so the time maybe ripe for Back To Brooklyn reunion.Im sure Miss Streisand is bothered by people all the time to support this or that but I get the feeling she has a special place in her heart for the theatre she watched many of M-G-M films in her youth. I think if she was approached in the right way and by the right person she would lend her support to the theatre she spent many enjoyable hours in the dark.brucec

Ziggy
Ziggy on November 19, 2004 at 12:57 pm

I hate to sound like Pollyanna you guys, and I know that all the objections brought up are reasonable ones. I’m not concerned about getting dirty, I even enjoy it if I have something to show for it. I’m familiar with the need for politicians to aggrandize themselves at the expense of the public which they “serve”, and also their complete willingness to stab anyone in the back. I know the Jersey had a huge advantage in two ways: 1)no hole in the roof 2)near a major transportation hub. But let’s not compare to the Jersey. Let’s take the Kings for what it is, a wreck, but still a salvageable one (though perhaps not much longer). The city may be willing to sell to a non-profit because, even if it’s not on the tax rolls, it would eventually become an asset to the neighborhood. A quick aside to Bob Furmanek and CConolly….would you two be interested in corresponding via email? You sound like an interesting couple of people to know.

chconnol
chconnol on November 19, 2004 at 12:40 pm

Yes, public awareness is key. Hate to say it, but the way the neighborhood is now, it will be difficult to find that much support there. It would have to come (largely) from the other side of Prospsect Park, in Park Slope and those areas. I know a lot of people in that area who for years wouldn’t dare to cross over into the area where the Kings is (I never thought it was that bad…).

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on November 19, 2004 at 12:22 pm

One of the key factors in saving the Jersey was creating public awareness of what’s there. When we began doing film shows in the lobby, the exterior looked horrendous. The marquee was full of broken glass; the underside was covered with peeling paint, and the entrance was completely boarded up. People had to enter the outer lobby through a small entry door. But, once inside, the lobby astounded them. (At that time, the auditorium was divided into 3 and looked terrible!) We presented 16mm film shows in the lobby space and got people back to the theater and to Journal Square again. Many people commented on the fact that they had no idea what a magnificent showplace existed beyond that decrepit exterior. The momentum built, petitions were signed, council meetings were attended, and the theater was saved. But, I’ve got to be honest, it was a LOT of very, very hard work.

Something should be done to increase awareness of the Kings, but I don’t know if the lobby is even usable at this point.

It’s one thing to sit at a computer and type messages on how important the Kings is, etc. It’s another thing to get down there and become involved. Be prepared to give up all of your free time, and (if you’re lucky to gain access) to work in a dirty, cold, decaying building with no running water. And, it’s going to take years to make even a little bit of progress. Ask any of the long-term volunteers at the Jersey. Also, be prepared for seedy officials and politicians who will say and do things behind your back to make themselves look better. Again, it’s all happened at the Jersey.

While it may sound fun and exciting, the concept of saving and restoring a movie palace is no easy task! I wish anyone involved with Loew’s Kings all the very best of luck.

Ziggy
Ziggy on November 19, 2004 at 12:16 pm

Well, let me say I admire you Jim Rankin, and I consider you a friend I haven’t yet met, (by the way, thank you for the lengthy email. I will answer you, but I don’t have a computer of my own, so as soon as I can spend the time at the neighbor’s, I’ll send you a reply worthy of the message you sent me) but you also said it wasn’t possible for the Paradise to reopen, or at least that it would be extremely unlikely, to the point of not happening, yet, at last report, it is happening. So, we’re all aware of how difficult it will be, thanks. Now, let’s get some constructive suggestions going. I’m single, and my career is such that I can pretty much move where I want, so my offer to move to Brooklyn (if it comes to that ) is a serious one.

chconnol
chconnol on November 19, 2004 at 12:02 pm

I’ve just posted something on the board for the Hudson Theater on W. 44th Street in NYC. I had heard about this theater and how it is incorporated into the Millenium Hotel but got a chance to look at it today. The hotel has probably the most ridiculous LACK of security I’ve ever seen. One can walk straight through the lobby and over to the Hudson Theater space.

What an ingenius use of the space, though. Not only is it beautifully restored but it’s in amazing shape. And what’s even better is that it’s being USED. They were setting up a conference in the space and no one seemed to care that I was just looking around.

This could be a model for what developers COULD do, if they’re willing, to a space like the Kings.

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on November 19, 2004 at 12:02 pm

Jim is right, and the politics of the situation at the Kings is a very serious issue. I had ten years of that over at the Jersey, and it’s not pretty folks!

As bad as the Jersey was (and don’t forget – it was triplexed,) at least it never had holes in the roof where it was exposed to the elements. The Kings is going to need a LOT of help.

JimRankin
JimRankin on November 19, 2004 at 11:31 am

It is nice of ‘Ziggy’ and others to be so concerned about the grandiose KINGS to be willing to move there, and Bob Furmanek is to be praised for venturing up on a marquee to work on it when he is afraid of heights, but I am afraid, folks, that, at the risk of being called a naysayer, I must point out that some MAJOR hurdles confront anyone interested in this particular theatre. Not only is it HUGE, but it is not owned by anyone who apparently has any real interest in preserving it. I am afraid that Warren is evidently right: the city is waiting for it to either be bought by some multi-millionaire or to get to the point of rationalized demolition— a cost they do not want to bear since it would be in the millions just for that. Look too at the fight the JERSEY had in getting the city to buy it, then getting them to have authority to restore and operate it. It does not seem that Brooklyn is any more willing to turn over real estate to a non-profit than was Jersey City. After all, if a non-profit runs a property, it seems that it will not pay taxes in future, and I hardly need remind anyone that taxes are what allow city officials to live in their fine homes. Then there is local politics. Does anyone in political power care about the KINGS? Is it the tradition there to ‘grease’ the palms of the local politicos to get things like this done? If so, who is wealthy enough to ‘grease’ enough palms?

Finally we come to the practical matters of restoration IF the ‘committee’ of whomever does get ownership or control. Once a building reaches the state that it is raining and snowing inside, there are then serious structural problems. No, the huge steel by which the building stands will not collapse any time soon, but lesser structure CAN collapse upon anyone without warning. For example, the plaster that makes up the walls, ceilings, and ornaments in there is NOT waterproof; it will crumble and fail as the steel mesh lath which supports it rusts and both fall, as has happened to large portions already (which is why the city is reluctant about tours = insurance liability). Sure, such plaster and lath can be repaired, but what about the roof above that is leaking and would ruin new plaster? Such roofs cannot be just re-tarred; the structure of the roof deck is far beyond that by now. Can we expect the ladies and a few men on the committee to climb upon a pitched roof some 5 floors high that is dangerous to even walk upon, to demolish the old, rotten decking and dispose of it (fees) and then to haul up there the new (heavy!) decking and professionally anchor it in place? Many professional roofers will turn down such a job due to safety and practicality concerns. Does this all mean that it cannot be saved? No. But is does mean that the city that owns it can rightly expect that any new owner/renter/operator will contract for all such dangerous and code-compliant work (electrical, HVAC, etc. etc.) and that it must and WILL be done according to legal standards. By all means, form a committee of concerned citizens and as Porter Faulkner says: “raise the consciousness” of the locals, but do not dream that un-licensed non-professionals can do all that needs to be done aside from minor interior work. Anyone that can restore a pipe organ is to be admired, but that is a far cry from having both the skills and the tools to do major structural work. Professionals will have to be found and hired, and they cost BIG BUCKS. Such a job cannot, nor should be, done on the cheap. Long live the once glorious KINGS, if an ‘angel’ with mega bucks can be found!

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on November 19, 2004 at 10:57 am

I initiated the marquee restoration at the Jersey – and I’m afraid of heights!

If I could do that, ANYTHING is possible!

Ziggy
Ziggy on November 19, 2004 at 10:48 am

I’ll even consider moving to Brooklyn if necessary

Ziggy
Ziggy on November 19, 2004 at 10:47 am

As another comment, let’s remember how the Friends of the Loew’s accomplished so much. They couldn’t afford the contractor’s estimate to get the stage and orchestra lifts working again, so they did it themselves. It was the same with the restoration of the marquee, and even the restoration of the organ. The thing to do is not concern ourselves with naysayers, but look to people who have accomplished something and emulate them. If we fail, it shouldn’t be for lack of trying. I realize that the Kings is in worse shape than the Jersey ever was, but that doesn’t make it impossible. So, if someone out there is organizing, please contact me.

Ziggy
Ziggy on November 19, 2004 at 9:08 am

I honestly don’t know if you’re right or wrong Warren, but you did say almost the same thing about the Paradise too. Anyway, can someone out there tell me how to join this committee that has been mentioned previously?

Ziggy
Ziggy on November 19, 2004 at 7:52 am

First of all, is there actually a committee dedicated to saving this place? If there is, how do I join? I already shared some memories of this place, and of Dorothy Panzica (God bless her) the wonderful manager of this theatre (back in the 70’s) who caught me prowling around the building as a teenager and wound up giving me a grand tour, backstage and all. I’m not from Brooklyn, and live no where near it, but I’m willing to do what I can to help. I remember while I was working in Florida for a few weeks in 1999, an elderly woman walked into the clinic. While conversing with her, she mentioned she was from Brooklyn. I asked her if she was ever in the Loew’s Kings. She not only had been there, but her mother took her to the opening day performance! She still had the program from the theatre’s first day of operation, and brought it into the clinic to show me! Well, somebody contact me through this site and let me know what, if anything I can do to help save Loew’s Kings.

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on November 19, 2004 at 7:25 am

I know some people that did a walk through in the building a few years ago. There was so much water damage to the stage, they couldn’t safely walk on it. The stage roof was wide open to the elements, and rain/snow had been pouring in for years. The place was a mess.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on November 19, 2004 at 7:02 am

But looking at the photos on the French site of the interior today it seems in very bad shape. Is it possible to save? Is enough left to restore it? It looks as though it would have to be almost rebuilt. I hope the photos make the situation look worse than it actually is. The only photo of the interior that I know of as it was originally is from The best Remaining Seats and it was magnificent. One of the architectural glories of Brooklyn.

uncleal923
uncleal923 on November 18, 2004 at 8:49 pm

Guys, I think you should all take the poll on Loew’s Theaters that’s on the site this week. THE KINGS IS TRAILING BEHIND THE LOEW’S JERSEY! By the way you are all right. I spoke again with the person who wants to restore the Kings, and they are regentrifying the area. They have a Footlocker, Blockbuster Video, and other stores, and the Sears that has been there since time and memoriam is, this former Brooklynite is glad to hear, still there. Joe Franklin joined the committee to save the Kings. So did I.

beardbear31
beardbear31 on November 18, 2004 at 7:13 pm

A picture of the Kings under construction, and a picture of it’s “cosmetic room” can be seen at http://www2.hawaii.edu/~angell/thsa/gl-loews.html

chconnol
chconnol on November 18, 2004 at 8:44 am

Your point is well taken. As a child, my parents took us to Times Square a lot in the 70’s. I never really thought that it was too bad at all. Whenever I read, see (Taxi Driver) or hear anything about how lousy it was, I find it hard to relate. Ok…I was a child/pre-teen so my age didn’t help. Yeah, it was gritty as HELL ( I remember the Times Square station…Whoa! What a place! But it was FUN!). But you know what? There were as many crowds back then as there are now. But now it’s tourist city. The “energy” is all manufactured as opposed to it being organic or natural. That’s why I like 9th Avenue a lot now. You have these great old hardware stores, shoeshines and quirky restaurants. 10th is even better.

As for Flatbush, it’s still gritty and pleasant. But if you go on the other side of Prospect Park (toward Park Slope) the changes are all but complete. It’s only a matter of time for it to sweep across the park into Flatbush, and it’s already happening. Will the Kings have a place in the “new” Flatbush? If history tells us anything (Times Square) the Kings will not survive. That’s why the time to start actively discussing saving it has to be done NOW. I used to love driving up Flatbush Ave. and seeing the old Kings and wonder what it must’ve been like 40, 50 or 60 years ago.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on November 18, 2004 at 8:13 am

Regentrification is a mixed blessing.

I would give anything to have the Times Square of the 70’s back. Yes it was filthy with sex shops, drug dealers and prostitutes all over the place. But so much of what made it a great New York neighborhood still existed. I loved walking around it and now I try to avoid it at every opportunity. Perhaps the highway Robert Moses wanted for Soho can now be put through midtown. Absolutely nothing would be lost. It’s already all gone. Are there any of you out there who would regret the loss of the Marriott Marquis, the Virgin Megastore or Toys R Us? And then there’s the car dealership also known as the Minskoff.