Ridgewood Theatre

55-27 Myrtle Avenue,
Ridgewood, NY 11385

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Showing 176 - 200 of 2,832 comments

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on December 6, 2010 at 7:17 am

Best wishes for your projected efforts, Mike.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, “The New Exhibit”, in whuch Ferguson’s Wax Museum had to close, because it wasn’t making any money, and was demolished to make way for a supermarket.

Fortunately, we can hope for better things for the Ridgewood, a fate similar to nearby MHT becoming a Rite-Aid, and that of the Meserole Theatre.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on December 6, 2010 at 12:36 am

Thanks for the video link!

It would be a major blow in the name of historic preservation if some of the rare auditorium features such as the back-lit proscenium designed by the foremost Thomas Lamb was torn down. Other features are grand columns, balustrade-fronted balconies with ornate plaster work, and angelic figurines. A treasure never diminishes in value, so it needs polishing. The theater does not have to be restored 100%. The major historic elements need a polishing. There is funding available for a more basic restoration, which will create a more appealing atmosphere for customers. The owner should take this into account. I hope to meet with him and other parties shortly.

Panzer65
Panzer65 on December 5, 2010 at 4:17 am

A piece of Ridgewood’s history being removed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmY9yoG1Cug

Bway
Bway on December 4, 2010 at 12:19 pm

While at this point, I will hope that the theater’s plaster walls, ceiling and other architectural features be retained as perhaps like the Meserole was, it’s still a sad day that the theater will be passing from cinema/theater to retail, there is no way to he “happy” about that. The only hope could be to preserve the architectural features.
Perhaps the balcony could be restored into a theater space at some point, but that looks dim too, with the main entrance, the beautiful lobby, being used for an entrance to a supermarket.
As for the “parking garage”, I find that just like any scare tactic, such as for example the MTA uses when it proposes major fare hikes or servuice cuts, and then when they do “less” than that people go, “oh, that isn’t so bad”, as they “scared you with the alternative.
In any event, lets hope for the best, but to say this isn’t a time to be negative, that is wrong.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on December 4, 2010 at 6:40 am

Bway, with all due respect, I think you are taking a far too negative view of this. For one thing, no one ever seriously maintained that the main first floor theaters could be returned to any cinematic use. The main focus has quite properly been placed on retaining the facade, preserving the lobby and main staircase and promoting some cinematic and/or cultural use in the second floor space. The first has, of course, been successful while the latter two remain distinct possibilities.

Beyond this, as noted above, the proposed new use could have been a good deal worse and would probably have required gutting of the entire interior to implement. (In addition to the possible alternatives noted above by Paul Kerzner, something as horrid as a parking garage was actually considered by the previous owner.)

Finally, as I explained in my November 26th post, it is clearly possible to develop a supermarket here along the same lines that occurred when the Meserole Theatre was converted into a drug store. (I know that you have spoken positively about this conversion before.) Such an approach could supply the community with a much needed amenity while preserving, to the maximum extent possible, the old theater’s archetectural elements. It could also retain the old awning. In short, this approach may produce as much of a win/win situation as we can reasonably hope for.

For these reasons, the main focus should now be based upon urging the local community and political leadership to encourage the new owner to voluntarily adopt the Meserole Theatre approach in developing this site – and to consider the possible longer term creation of cinematic or cultural space on the second floor. This is, in my view, the most practical road to take.

Bway
Bway on December 4, 2010 at 1:12 am

This news is devastating to say the least. What a sad day this is.
Thank you Native Forest Hiller for all your work at trying to preserve the theater. It is hard to believe that this will be the final result, the theater going the way of all the other theaters in Ridgewood. A sad day.
Let’s hope that the conversion will be kinder than that of the Madison Theater, or the Oasis, and that instead the architectual elements inside will be preserved.
It’s hard to believe this conversion is going to happen.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on December 2, 2010 at 8:57 pm

PETITION DRIVE! The Ridgewood Theatre facade has Landmark status, but Architect Thomas Lamb’s 1916 interior exhibiting RARE Adamesque details i.e. a backlit proscenium, angelic figurines & muses, etc. merit preservation, re-use, & funding prospects. It may become a supermarket & undergo demolition.

Please sign & comment on the petition, & pitch it to your friends:

View link

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on December 2, 2010 at 7:39 pm

View link

Times NewsWeekly
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 façade 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.

“I would dare say that they would have to level the floors inside the theater, otherwise everything would be on a 30-degree angle,” 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.

“We could have done a hell of a lot worse in terms of what could have gone in there,” he said, noting that among the ideas presented and rejected for the site included a charter school, a drug treatment counseling facility and condominiums.

“This seems to be the best use. It’s actually helpful since there isn’t a large supermarket in that end of Ridgewood,” Kerzner added. “If they market it right, they can do very well.”

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.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on November 30, 2010 at 3:56 pm

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.

RobertR
RobertR on November 30, 2010 at 3:09 pm

They still could have made theatres in the balcony?
Pre-World War II movie theatre in Ridgewood to hawk food over films
BY Nicholas Hirshon
DAILY NEWS WRITER

Friday, November 26th 2010, 4:00 AM

A landmarked Queens movie theater that opened during World War I and became the longest continuously operated theater in the nation will be transformed into an Associated supermarket, the Daily News has learned.

The Ridgewood Theatre – shuttered since 2008 – will turn from film to food next year, changing its use for the first time since the Myrtle Ave. mainstay opened in 1916, sources said.

“Oy!” exclaimed Orlando Lopes of the Theatre Historical Society of America. “A part of history is lost, and that is really terribly sad.”

The movie house earned city landmark status this year, protecting its ornate facade from alterations or demolition. Insiders insist its stage and grand staircase are beyond repair.

Still, the sale raises questions about the site’s future.

Associated can’t change the exterior without city approval, but it can wreck the largely intact lobby and other interior attributes of the two-story venue.

Harry Laufer, president of the Long Island-based chain, estimated the store will open in “maybe six months.” But he said he did not know the renovation plans of franchisee Tony Guzman.

Guzman’s attorney did not return calls seeking comment.

The Ridgewood survived the advent of the TV, VCR and DVD during an epic run that began on Dec. 23, 1916. Designed by renowned architect Thomas Lamb, the 2,000-seat theater initially ran films and vaudeville acts.

The theater was expanded into a five-screen multiplex in 1980. It closed in 2008 amid competition from a new multiplex at the Shops at Atlas Park, a mall in nearby Glendale.

When real estate agent Tony Montalbano bought the theater that year, he said he wanted to run films on its second floor and lease the ground level for stores. He later admitted he was struggling to find a movie operator.

The city designated the Beaux-Arts structure a landmark in January, crediting The News for “crusading” reports that had alerted city officials to the building.

Before reaching a deal with Associated, Montalbano fielded poorly financed pitches for housing, a church, a laundermat and a parking facility, sources said.

Laufer said that Guzman runs other local supermarkets. Associated already boasts three stores in Ridgewood and dozens of others in the city, Long Island, upstate New York and New Jersey.

Read more: View link

RobertR
RobertR on November 30, 2010 at 3:09 pm

They still could have made theatres in the balcony?
Pre-World War II movie theatre in Ridgewood to hawk food over films
BY Nicholas Hirshon
DAILY NEWS WRITER

Friday, November 26th 2010, 4:00 AM

A landmarked Queens movie theater that opened during World War I and became the longest continuously operated theater in the nation will be transformed into an Associated supermarket, the Daily News has learned.

The Ridgewood Theatre – shuttered since 2008 – will turn from film to food next year, changing its use for the first time since the Myrtle Ave. mainstay opened in 1916, sources said.

“Oy!” exclaimed Orlando Lopes of the Theatre Historical Society of America. “A part of history is lost, and that is really terribly sad.”

The movie house earned city landmark status this year, protecting its ornate facade from alterations or demolition. Insiders insist its stage and grand staircase are beyond repair.

Still, the sale raises questions about the site’s future.

Associated can’t change the exterior without city approval, but it can wreck the largely intact lobby and other interior attributes of the two-story venue.

Harry Laufer, president of the Long Island-based chain, estimated the store will open in “maybe six months.” But he said he did not know the renovation plans of franchisee Tony Guzman.

Guzman’s attorney did not return calls seeking comment.

The Ridgewood survived the advent of the TV, VCR and DVD during an epic run that began on Dec. 23, 1916. Designed by renowned architect Thomas Lamb, the 2,000-seat theater initially ran films and vaudeville acts.

The theater was expanded into a five-screen multiplex in 1980. It closed in 2008 amid competition from a new multiplex at the Shops at Atlas Park, a mall in nearby Glendale.

When real estate agent Tony Montalbano bought the theater that year, he said he wanted to run films on its second floor and lease the ground level for stores. He later admitted he was struggling to find a movie operator.

The city designated the Beaux-Arts structure a landmark in January, crediting The News for “crusading” reports that had alerted city officials to the building.

Before reaching a deal with Associated, Montalbano fielded poorly financed pitches for housing, a church, a laundermat and a parking facility, sources said.

Laufer said that Guzman runs other local supermarkets. Associated already boasts three stores in Ridgewood and dozens of others in the city, Long Island, upstate New York and New Jersey.

Read more: View link

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on November 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Michael, MikeZZ and AprilY, please stop this stupid tri-ologue. It has nothing to do the real issues at stake and just makes all of you look silly.

Getting to the real issue, however, I have positive news to report. The most recent TimesNewsweekly has an interesting article on the Ridgewood’s recent resale. (It should be on-line in less than a week from now.) Among other things, it quotes both Paul Kerzner, who heads the local Property Owners and Civic Association, and Ted Renz, who is the Executive Director of the Myrtle Ave. Business Improvement District, in ways that support a positive re-development of the old theater. Specifically, Paul notes that “we could have done a lot worse in terms of what could have gone in there” and Ted stated a hope that the upper floor could be used for commuity related spaces. This provides reasonable grounds to hope that a broard coalition for the historically sentitive re-use of the Ridgewood can both emerge and be successful.

These recent developments really provide grounds for realistic optimism.

AprilY
AprilY on November 27, 2010 at 11:50 am

NativeForestHiller: Your answer – a conspiracy against you between the press, the Landmarks Commission and the Associated supermarket chain – seems far-fetched. I’ll just end by saying you deserve much credit for what you did for this theater, but you should show some class and share that credit when everyone else acknowledges that it should be shared.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on November 27, 2010 at 11:41 am

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.

AprilY
AprilY on November 27, 2010 at 8:29 am

you tell ‘em mike!

MikeZZ
MikeZZ on November 27, 2010 at 7:54 am

NativeForestHiller: Oh boy. Seems unwise for a preservationist who could work with the media to openly bash their efforts on a public forum. Especially when, by all indications, the press was (1) first one to alert the commission, even if you followed up with paperwork (a laudable feat on your part, for sure) and (2) first to report the supermarket opening. So, I stick with giving credit to them.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on November 26, 2010 at 11:47 pm

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.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on November 26, 2010 at 6:58 pm

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 and we can exchange phone numbers? I would appreciate your role. I am in the process of calling for a meeting with the new owner. This would hopefully preserve rare interior architecture at the site, make Associated Supermarket franchisee Tony Guzman aware of funding opportunities, other sites locally and beyond that underwent a successful parallel conversion with history in mind, and explain to him how he will be viewed as a welcomed entity in the community (despite performing arts being the most ideal function for the theater). I embrace the idea of community spaces on the upper floors, and hopefully he will be interested.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on November 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Good idea, John D. Thanks.

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on November 26, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Well, I guess the second shoe has now dropped and we know where the next future life of the old Ridgewood Theatre is headed – as a supermarket. Frankly, the news could have been far, far worse. (Just think parking garage!) Things might, in fact, work out rather well if the new owner is convinced to take the “Meserole Theatre approach” in developing this property.

In way of explanation, the old Meserole Theatre, in Greenpoint, closed in the mid 1970’s and, after a short life as a roller skating rink, was converted into a large drug store. Instead of gutting the place, the new owner constructed the drug store around the old theater. The lobby serves as the check out counter and the main store is situated in the theater proper. Since the “Mezzy” had never been divided, the new store easily fits into the old movie house. Under several differnet ownerships, the old Meserole has thrived and has retained a good deal of its former cinematic glory.

If the new owner of the Ridgewood can be convinced to replicate this approach, a great deal of the old theater can ge retained for the enjoyment of future generations. Like the Meserole, the Ridgewood’s unaltered entrance and lobby can serve as the place through which persons enter and leave the place and check out their purchases. (The staircase to the second floor need not be gutted.) In addition, the now un-divided first floor theater can probably provide more than sufficient space to house the store itself without altering the basic architectural structure – and perhaps even restoring some of the former ornaments. (The floor will, obviously, have to be leveled – as was done at the Meserole.)

Since supermarkets most efficiently work as one-floor entities, the conversion need not initially affect the second floor. (The basement can probably provide ample storage space.) If the supermarket proves profitable, it might even help subsidize the development of upper floor space for community oriented purposes – including theatrical or even cinematic purposes. But the practicality of this clearly depends upon the success of the commercial endeavor.

Finally, since the Ridgewood’s awning is still very much in place, it should be retained to both advertise supermarket sales and retain the old cinematic ambiance. (The old Chopin Theatre’s awning in Greenpoint does this very well as an adjunct to its current Starbuck’s host.)

In short, I believe this approach is practical and can be successfully promoted to the new owner as well as the local politial and community leadership. It should also receive support on this page.

MikeZZ
MikeZZ on November 26, 2010 at 12:19 pm

To NativeForestHiller: Thanks for your work to save the Ridgewood Theatre, but I must stand up for AprilY’s comment after searching online for the articles. I don’t really care for the Daily News as a newspaper, too much fluff, but I feel we should give credit where credit is due.

The Landmarks Commission clearly said the Daily News first brought the Ridgewood Theatre to its attention:
April 1, 2008 — Landmarks spokeswoman says: “No one ever brought it to our attention. No one on our staff had ever seen it before and now we know about it.” That’s the commission itself saying that the Daily News was first.
January 13, 2010 — During the landmarks hearing, Robert Tierney, chairman of the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, hailed The News' “crusading” reports and “persistence” that “helped bring [the Ridgewood] to our attention.”

I’m sure you helped too, but why are you diminishing the Daily News when the commission gives them credit? Besides, this reporter gave us the first news of the Associated change, which you claim you knew but never told us. Just like you claim to have notified the commission first, even though the commission says otherwise.

PeterKoch
PeterKoch on November 26, 2010 at 9:56 am

Good luck, Mike. The Ridgewood Theatre could end up like the nearby former Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust, now a Rite-Aid, which still looks like a bank, inside as well as outside.

NativeForestHiller
NativeForestHiller on November 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

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.

AprilY
AprilY on November 26, 2010 at 9:13 am

yeah daily newws was on top on this all along and city thanked the reporter for landmarking according to articles i read

MikeZZ
MikeZZ on November 26, 2010 at 9:00 am

Thanks Ridgewood John – thanks Daily News – very disappointing – at least we know now since NativeForestHiller didn’t have this news