RKO Keith's Theatre

135-35 Northern Boulevard,
Flushing, NY 11354

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SWCphotography on June 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Wall fixture in the 784 square foot Men’s Smoking Room. This and most of the theatre would be demolished to make way for a proposed apartment building that would have 357 units with an average area of 787 square feet.

SWCphotography on June 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm

The “bulldozed” West stairway from the promenade

SWCphotography on May 20, 2012 at 7:50 am

Oops! There goes another chunk of landmark.

SWCphotography on May 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm

The scrupulously maintained landmark

SWCphotography on May 13, 2012 at 8:19 am


Jeffrey1955 on May 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm

At least the Tribune seems to have some grasp of the facts, unlike the Courier. Ross Barkan actually notes that the theater has fallen into “disrepair” instead of acting like it no longer exists, acknowledges the efforts of preservationists, and never even mentions that PR crap about “preserving” the lobby. A far cry from the pathetic “journalism” of Melissa Chan — who never bothered to respond.

Jeffrey1955 on May 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I just posted a scathing comment to that Queens Courier story. Let’s see what Melissa Chan has to say in reply!

SWCphotography on March 14, 2012 at 3:42 pm

It’s not that Thomas Huang didn’t try to destroy the theatre, it’s just that he was just so cheap he hired incompetent day laborers to do the job using hand held hammers. It is thanks to this method of “demolition” that so much of the theatre survives to this day.

SWCphotography on March 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Time for another photo of the gutted and worthless

Jeffrey1955 on March 14, 2012 at 11:31 am

That is a wonderfully succinct summation of everything that is wrong with this project.

As for the machinations surrounding whether investment partners have or have not been found — it sure sounds like Fred Wilpon and the Mets are involved! Must be the water in Queens…

SWCphotography on March 14, 2012 at 9:48 am

The myth that there is nothing of value left in the theatre ignores the facts. The urbanremainschicago.com site is currently marketing portions of Chicago’s 1931 Nortown Theatre, demolished in June 2007. Examples include frieze panels of 31" x 21" offered for $750, small mask sculptures offered for $1,850 and other decorative geometry plaster sections are sold for $460. While the 82,439 sq ft Flushing RKO Keith’s Theatre has deliberate damage to interior walls, it also has on the order of 10,000 sq. ft. of hand sculpted plaster and relief panels, mostly extant, in excellent to repairable condition in the auditorium. A complete valuation has never been done, if parted out it could be worth millions. Consider that they were designed by America’s foremost show palace architect and done by skilled craftsman brought over from Scotland. The presence of these artifacts has been substantiated with numerous recent photographs. The reinforced concrete balcony, steel frame structure, foundation and immaculate exterior brick work all remain intact. It is the one of last surviving atmospheric theatres in the country and is part of the cultural heritage of NYC and its development. The Flushing community, with its well documented congestion in the downtown area and glut of zoning variance properties, many unoccupied for years, is not well served with the addition 357 units on a street that has NYC’s second highest vehicular traffic, after Times Square, configured as a tower directly under the LaGuardia airport landing approach.

LuisV on March 14, 2012 at 8:01 am

Hmmm, we’ll see. It’s a soap Opera indeed!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 14, 2012 at 7:47 am

He could simply be buying time with a cryptic statement that some unnamed financial partner has been secured for the project. If there is no partner and the question comes up again in a few months, he might simply explain that the partner eventually backed out of the deal – again, unnamed. At some point, they’ll either have to play or fold. But until their hand is forced, they can string everyone along with vague lies and exaggerations for quite a while. Basic everyday politics.

BobbyS on March 14, 2012 at 7:26 am

Why not LuisV? Politicians do all the time…

LuisV on March 14, 2012 at 5:30 am

I would agree except that lying about finding a partner and getting exposed for it will make it worse so (unless I’m missing something) I don’t buy it.

edtracey on March 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Mike Nussbaum brokered the deal for Thompson when he bought the theater. The same Nussbaum who was Donald Manes' campaign manager and was convicted of soliciting bribes. So yes, I would think saving face is a big deal for him.

LuisV on March 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Hmmm….How does one “save face” by lying about finding a partner? Wouldn’t that be quickly exposed and make you look even more foolish? Of course, I don’t know this developer so he could just be not be very bright. :–)

edtracey on March 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm

According to another reporter from the local rags, Michael Nussbaum is only trying to save face, and that there are actually no interested investors/financiers. They also mentioned that Newmark Frank will most likely take the listing. I have a call into them to conifrm.

LuisV on March 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Indeed, the developer has found a partner, though the plan still includes “saving” a restored Lobby.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on March 13, 2012 at 8:55 am

Looks like the rumors the Keith’s was for sale again were only rumors….

RKO Keith’s theater developer Patrick Thompson finds financial partner

BobbyS on March 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm

A soap opera couln’t more interesting than the perils of the Keith’s. More twists & turns coming…..

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 9, 2012 at 10:49 am

The saga continues…

Jeffrey1955 on March 9, 2012 at 10:42 am

Thanks for the heads-up! Found it in the Queens Chronicle:

Posted: Thursday, March 8, 2012 5:22 pm by Liz Rhoades Rumors are flying around Flushing that the latest owner of the RKO Keith’s Theatre has put the property on the market. The star-crossed plan for 357 apartment units, 360 underground parking spaces and retail space seems to be on hold once again — but nothing could immediately be confirmed. The latest owner, Patrick Thompson, a Manhattan developer, bought the Northern Boulevard property in 2010 for $20 million. Flushing officials say they’ve heard that it’s been on the market for about a month. Thompson even got a variance to amend the 2005 one, adding additional apartments and parking. The plan also calls for a senior center and retention of the landmarked lobby and ticket booth. Attempts to reach Thompson were not successful. The theater was built in 1928 and closed in 1987 after it was bought by Thomas Huang, who wanted to convert it into a shopping mall. When his plans were thwarted by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, Huang sat on the property and allowed it to deteriorate and partially bulldozed one of the landmarked staircases. Huang sold the property to a Brooklyn developer in 2002, who ran out of money and sold the Keith’s to Thompson.

SWCphotography on March 9, 2012 at 9:53 am

I am hesitant to show overall photos because the reaction is “look at the destruction” as opposed to “look 90% of the theatre is still there and in salvageable condition” You can see the space above the ceiling where undocumented workers hired by the first developer could climb into and hammer down sections. The “show me the money” argument against restoring the theatre applies just as easily to developers who want to build a mixed use tower. It appears the RKO is back on the market and yet another developer makes an exit leaving behind the mess they created.

BobbyS on March 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm

SWC, What an erie, haunting wonderful picture! It still has magic through all these years…One would think the neighborhood would rally around this faded showplace. Maybe 30 years ago they might have when there was more money around and people appreciated beauty……