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MarkViii, we’re talking about apples and oranges here. As far as what “town” any of these things are in, why, they’re in New York City, of course. They’re also in the Borough of Queens, and in Queens County. Everything after that becomes muddy. Queens has many traditional neighborhood names, and some may have even been separate “towns” at some point in the distant past, but today, the only identifiable “official” designations that have actual boundaries are those of the U.S. Postal Service, which maintains separate Zip Codes for these individual post offices. As for it being strange to call the apartment complex Rego Park Gardens — that’s not strange, that’s marketing. Whoever built the place decided Rego Park was a more desirable name, even if it wasn’t within those boundaries.
MarkViii, Rego Park Gardens was not actually in Rego Park either. The post office address was Elmhurst, NY 11373. Junction Blvd. was the dividing line; the Lefrak City post office, directly across the street, was in Corona. Rego Park was up Junction Blvd. — the LIE (or Horace Harding Expwy.) may have been the actual dividing line between Elmhurst and Rego Park.
Warren, what do you consider the criteria for the “actual” name of a theater?
According to the 1984 New York Times article quoted and linked to in Lost Memory’s Oct 27, 2006 post above, the theater was called “the Loew’s at Lefrak City” which is certainly pretentious enough.
BTW, among the other notable things in that article, the complex was marking its 25th anniversary in 1984, which would make 1959 the starting date; never once does the article refer to Lefrak City, Samuel J. Lefrak, or the Lefrak Organization as “LeFrak”; and there’s this paragraph:
“The development, which has apartment towers grouped in four-building sections, is bordered by 57th Avenue, Junction Boulevard, 99th Street and the Horace Harding Expressway. Depending on whom one talks to, it is in Elmhurst, Corona, or, as Mr. Lefrak maintains, Rego Park.”
I’m pleased to see that the listing here has been revised to say Corona, NY, which is accurate. I hope this site never is seduced by this other apparently insidious revisionism, which we had alluded to earlier: the insistence by the Lefraks to recast themselves as the LeFraks. Apparently some media outlets are now buying into that scheme. I was dismayed to find this story in the online TimesLedger.com:
Man shot in LeFrak City after argument: Police
LEFRAK CITY – A LeFrak City man was shot in the buttocks early Tuesday morning, police said. At 1:39 a.m., officers responded to 83-32 57th Ave. to find a man shot once in the lower left flank, police said. The victim had been involved in an argument with several other men, police said. He was treated for the wound at the scene and taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center with non-life-threatening injuries, according to police.
Getting shot in the butt there sounds about right, but LeFrak City? Come on!
What’s really interesting about that ad is that they were astute enough in 1933 to call Kong an “apelike monster” and not a “giant gorilla” as so many have for years. Further proof — aside from what’s been allowed to happen to great movie palaces like the Keith’s — that we’ve become steadily more stupid.
So that’s it? Not a word about anybody wanting to preserve the theater itself?
Actually, according to this, the reason Boymelgreen gave up on the project was because it changed its plan and wanted to develop the residential units into “lofts for home businesses” (whatever those are) and got into a dispute with CB 7, which had already approved 250 condos. That’s the first time I’ve seen that explanation.
Here it is 2008…is the Polk still just sitting there, closed?
Thanks for the photos. Clearly a work in progress, with mixed results. That ceiling fan, though, is a real buzz-kill — obviously a Home Depot special and not remotely original decor!
Alas, Zephyr325, I am not Jeffrey Z.; I am Jeffrey M. I did not live on Xenia St., but on Junction Blvd. However, I did graduate from Newtown in June 72 in Forest Park. (We were forced to sing “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” a song derived from a Coke commercial jingle.) And one of my best friends, Robert M., lived on or near Xenia St. (Honestly, I don’t remember which street he lived on.) Here’s something that might jar your memory: Bend-O.
Wo — for a moment there, I thought you meant the guy from Grand Funk Railroad… then I realized he was Mark Farner, not Mike Farmer!
Perhaps the bad Feng Shui at the site was caused by Thomas Huang’s placement of demolition equipment inside the Keith’s and oil in its basement. It doesn’t take a Feng Shui expert to determine that those seem to have ruined the harmony of the building’s environment.
That’s a shame. But at least there apparently ARE still “plaster cornices, murals, brass fixtures and satin wall coverings” — unlike what’s happened to so many other theaters. And hopefully, if attention is called to them, they’ll remain.
I tried blowing that photo up, but it’s not high enough resolution and breaks down pretty quickly. However, I was suspicious due to the small number of letters — and it looks to me like it says
Cannot make out that last word.
Anybody remember a time in the late 60s when the Arion was closed?
Obviously, Doug Leblang’s paintings are intended to be somewhat idealized memories of his old neighborhood, some more accurate than others. Note that on his website he has another one showing the front of the Arion on which the background color of the front ARION sign differs from that on the one we originally saw. Also note that he’s got a photo of the Arion from what appears to be the late 60s (unfortunately, it doesn’t expand if you click on it) and it clearly shows a larger illuminated marquee area than does his painting.
The number on the marquee is a 6, but you’re right, that depiction is completely wrong. Even the style of movable marquee lettering looks too modern. I don’t know who the artist is or why or when this picture was created, but it should not be confused with reality.
On the other hand, the photos on that site are wonderful.
“You’re drifting away from the purpose of this website."
Drifting away? We jumped off a cliff a long time ago!
Ed Solero: “they were merely putting on a show for their benefit."
In a theater! What a concept…
p.s. Here’s my latest stupid question: Does an M-F couple get weekends off?
p.p.s. I apologize if I have detracted from the seriousness of this discussion. Carry on.
“This is not the place for your hook-ups to be talked about!” True, but I have to say it is most educational. This is the first time I’ve heard the term “sex-discordant couples.” Sounds like they’re having an argument.
Things have apparently changed at the movies. This gives a whole new meaning to “Down in Front!”…
I remember the good old days too. The days when this page was about a theater… a theater in…um…Flushing! That’s it, a theater in Flushing. Called the… the… wait, don’t rush me… the RKO Keith’s! Yeah, I remember it now… I remember it like it was yesterday.
Actually, I have no idea what happened yesterday.
Flushing boom fades
By Stephen Stirling â€" Times Ledger
The demise of the ambitious RKO Keith’s redevelopment project may be a harbinger of things to come in Flushing, with plans for the Municipal Lot 1 complex nearly dead and mounting delays threatening the city’s vision for Willets Point, City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) warned in recent days.
During a speech to members of the Queens Chamber of Commerce Friday, Liu said the $500 million planned redevelopment of Municipal Lot 1 may be a lost cause and the city’s expansive plans for redeveloping Willets Point may also be in jeopardy.
“I think in the next month or so you’re going to see a redefining in the set of priorities within the Bloomberg administration, and naturally some things are going to be dropped,” Liu said. “As the 2008 election nears, priorities are going to continue to shift and the probability curve is dropping fast [for these projects],” he said, alluding to the mayor’s rumored presidential ambitions.
Earlier this month, Liu and Borough President Helen Marshall were informed by Brooklyn-based Boymelgreen Development, which bought the site of RKO Keith’s in 2002, that it planned to put the property up for sale, officially ending its redevelopment bid.
Liu said Boymelgreen is breaking apart its partnership and will be liquidating its assets, thus forcing the company to sell the property. But he is hopeful another developer will revive the project because the plans have been approved by the city.
“That’s like a ghost haunting all of Flushing,” he said. “We do need to bring the RKO site back from the dead.”
Liu was less optimistic about Municipal Lot 1, and told the chamber the plans being developed by Flushing Commons LLC were all but hopeless in their current form.
“I honestly don’t think anything will happen on Lot 1,” he said. “Perhaps we can resurrect it, but unfortunately ‘resurrect’ is the word you have to use now.”
In an interview with the TimesLedger Monday, Liu elaborated, saying there is no compelling reason for the Flushing community to get behind the Muni Lot plans, which originally called for a mixed-use development featuring 500 residential units, 350,000 square feet of retail space, a 50,000-square-foot youth center and 2,000 below market rate parking spaces.
“This is a project that is not pursued by the Flushing community,” he said.
Liu said the original plan had promise, but changes proposed by the developer earlier this year that cut about 400 spaces from the parking plan, reduced the size of the youth center by nearly half and raised the proposed parking rates above what are currently available on the lot, left little incentive for Flushing residents.
“The developer seems to think it doesn’t need to deliver on the promises it made two years ago. That’s at best a woeful miscalculation and at worst just pure greed,” Liu said.
Liu’s current position is a far cry from what it was a few years ago, when standing alongside Mayor Michael Bloomberg and top brass from Flushing Commons LLC, he said the project would “set the tone and direction for Flushing for years to come.”
Liu’s more recent sentiments were echoed by state Assemblywoman Ellen Young (D-Flushing).
“If the community doesn’t need this project, it shouldn’t be pushed,” Young said.
Reached for comment, Flushing Commons LLC spokesman Jamie Van Bramer rejected the Flushing officials' claims and said the Flushing Commons project is very much alive.
“We have been working diligently with our partners in the New York City Economic Development Corporation to work out the details on a development plan that we are confident both respects our original Flushing Commons vision and is wholly achievable within this ever-changing economic environment,” Van Bramer said.
Van Bramer said the developer hopes to release a revised plan in the near future. Flushing Commons LLC is a joint venture between Flushing-based TDC Development and Construction Corp. and Rockefeller Development Corp.
Liu said, however, that Bloomberg’s priorities may not align with those of Flushing Commons.
Liu said the mayor has made it clear that the proposed multibillion-dollar redevelopment of Willets Point is a higher priority for the city, plans which are also in flux. The public approval, or ULURP, process was scheduled to begin this fall but has yet to materialize.
Unveiled by Bloomberg in April, the redevelopment project for Willets Point is expected to include 5,500 residential housing units and 1.7 million square feet of retail space and will likely cost in excess of $3 billion.
Neither EDC nor the mayor’s office returned calls for comment about when they hope the Willets Point public approval process will begin.
Liu said while he does not think the project is necessarily dependent on Bloomberg, it may be dependent on the New York Mets' Citi Field, which is expected to open in the fall of 2009.
“If that new Mets stadium is finished and there’s still not much headway made on Willets Point, then the focus and excitement will just peter off and the Willets Point idea will suffer the same fate it has for decades,” he said, referring to previous attempts to develop the hardscrabble 60-acre site.
But former Borough President Claire Shulman, who has been lobbying hard for the development of Willets Point in recent months, said getting the project off the ground during Bloomberg’s tenure is crucial.
“We want to get so far along by the time Bloomberg leaves office that there’s no possibility of reversing [the plan],” Shulman said. “You never know where support is coming from.”
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at
Â©Times Ledger 2007
They also specify “United States” in the address… just in case you were wondering.
Here’s the problem. CB 7 is still looking at this as a “dilapidated shell of a building” that could be developed into something better.
Dormant RKO Keith’s theater for sale again
By Stephen Stirling
After more than five years of trying to develop the site of the famed RKO Keith’s Theater in downtown Flushing, the Brooklyn developer who owns it has put the bedraggled property up for sale, several members of Community Board 7 said this week.
Members of CB 7’s Executive Board said they were told by Borough President Helen Marshall’s office last week that Boymelgreen Development, which bought the property in 2002, is planning to sell it, effectively ending a once hopeful bid by the developer to rejuvenate the formerly majestic site.
“It’s for sale,” said Chuck Apelian, CB 7 vice president. “[boymelgreen] bought that property in 2002 and we’ve had celebrations, we’ve had announcements and we’ve gotten nothing.”
CB 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman and Chairman Eugene Kelty also confirmed the property was for sale.
The marketing department at Boymelgreen said the company official who handles RKO Keith’s, Jeff Amengual, was away on business and could not be reached for comment.
After Boymelgreen bought the property, plans to turn the RKO Keith’s, a former 1920s vaudeville and movie house, into a 17-story condo tower with a senior center were finalized and approved by the Board of Standards and Appeals in 2005.
The original plans called for the construction of 200 apartments in a 17-story building, 229 parking spaces, a senior center and a landmarked lobby to preserve the theater’s history.
Elected officials hailed the project, located at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Main Street, as the new face of Flushing.
The plans snagged last year, however, when Boymelgreen said the project would not be financially viable if changes were not made. The new plans, which called for 60 large lofts to be added to the proposal, were universally panned and unanimously rejected by CB 7.
“The current owner has obviously failed and it’s too bad. It’s a disappointment,” said City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing). “The good thing is there are a set of plans that have been approved by the city, and that helps ensure that we have a quality building go up when we do go forward.”
Following the rejection, both Apelian and attorneys for Boymelgreen hinted that the developer might sell the property.
Apelian said he is confident, however, that the site will be redeveloped. The building is a dilapidated shell of its former self, but Apelian said the site – located at the corner of Main Street and Northern Boulevard – is too good a piece of real estate to remain vacant forever.
“Ten years from now when the thing is built and it’s five or six years old, people are going to say, man we should have developed that,” Apelian said. “Someone will build there.”
Apelian cautioned that if the property is sold, the new owner will have to work with the community to build within the framework that was already approved by the city.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “Hope is eternal.”
“I just don’t think restoring "an old movie house” is something that holds any interest to the community at large"
Nor should it! If you put it that way, it sounds positively dreadful. But revitalizing a significant community landmark and turning it into a local showcase and venue for live shows and cultural events, as was done with the Paradise, IS something the community should be able to get behind. Again, it’s a question of education and overcoming a cultural barrier.
AldeNYC, I don’t think most of the current Bronx residents in the neighborhood of the Loew’s Paradise had any experience with that theater either, but they recognized it as a community resource. Perhaps a neighborhood education campaign is needed in Flushing to let people know what a valuable asset the Keith’s is. In pushing plans for a luxury high-rise, it certainly doesn’t seem the developers and politicians have ever considered what would be best for the actual residents of the area — only what would be best to line their own pockets. Outside of the Queens Historical Society, there doesn’t seem to be any real community advocacy going on. Is there some cultural tendency among the Koreans to focus on their own family businesses and shy away from the government? Who holds sway with the local Chamber of Commerce, if there is one? How can these barriers be overcome?