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In the case of the Paradise, it appears to be that the megachurch had megabucks that the owner couldn’t refuse. In the case of the Keith’s (and I suspect in most cases) it is politicians in the pocket of developers.
I somehow missed the fact that the resplendently restored Loew’s Paradise in the Bronx has been bought by a mega church, and construction workers there had already managed to start a fire on Nov. 5 that caused heavy smoke damage. It’s a shame that so few of these stories end in Happily Ever After.
Look at the interior of the Loew’s Kings in Brooklyn and compare it to the shots of the Keith’s. Why is one being refurbished and the other considered a total loss?
The size of these auditoriums is now approaching that of some living rooms! Can’t believe the largest one holds only 175.
Well, this is interesting! This is my photo, from my Intermediate School 61 graduation at the Keith’s in June 1968. The original that I uploaded was a color transparency that somehow didn’t convert correctly when I scanned it, so the colors were way off. Someone has turned it into a b+w photo, which does in fact look better!
The facade will apparently not be “saved” — it will be “recreated” using “as much of the old building’s bricks as possible”… Anyway, demolition is now underway, and I’m posting some pics I snapped today with my lousy cell phone camera in the photo section. (The fact that they spray-painted “DEMO” all over the bricks on the facade makes me wonder how they’re planning to reuse them; but hey, it makes as much sense as an article about the theater’s demolition being headlined “Theater revival under way”… or the point I made before that this will give Ridgefield TWO non-profit theaters to support, including the one that took this theater’s name.)
Theater revival under way
Updated 10:42 p.m., Friday, September 14, 2012
Read more: http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Theater-revival-under-way-3866524.php#ixzz29mYE3Fp0
RIDGEFIELD — Valerie Jensen — dressed for the occasion in black gown, pink carpenter’s tool belt and black Converse All-Star sneakers with shocking pink laces — popped a confetti-filled champagne bottle in front of the old Ridgefield Playhouse.
The theater’s rebirth as The Prospector was about to begin.
“All right,‘’ she said Friday. "Let’s go to the movies.‘’
Jensen was officiating the start of the demolition of the town’s 1939 movie house, turned bank, turned vacant building.
In 18 months, she hopes, it will reopen as a three-screen theater showing a range of films — current releases, independent films, classics.
Her love of the theater, she admitted, began in 2009, when the Ridgfield Library — which owned the old theater — realized the building could not be used as part of its expansion. The library proposed to tear the theater down.
"I had passed this building a million times and never thought about it,‘’ Jensen said. "I went inside. I looked at the theater and the theater looked at me. It was love at first sight.‘’
Jensen is the head of SPHERE — Special People Housing Education Recreation and Employment — which works with people with disabilities. While she’s made two movies for SPHERE, she admits she has no experience running a theater.
But she was able to get the financing to buy the theater from the library for $2.55 million. She will now tear the building down. The new building will duplicate the old theater’s facade lobby, using as much of the old building’s bricks as possible.
The project will then add on the three new cinemas — one with 150 seats, a second with 120, and a third with 150 seats that can be used for parties and special events.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the crowd gathered at the ground-breaking of seeing the Alfred Hitchcock classic "Psycho'‘ as an 11-year-old, then running home, scared to death by the menace of a demented Tony Perkins. Oblivious to the world, he ran into a telephone pole, and ripped his new jacket.
Which then gave him something else to be scared of.
"My mother was so mad at me,’‘ he said.
© 2012 Hearst Communications
It would be a shame if the Fresh Meadows was really on its last legs, but it sounds as if most of the modernistic grandeur has long been gone anyway. BTW, Tinseltoes, the Box Office article you linked to on July 5 is fascinating – what a great resource that site is. And if you scroll ahead to Page 12 there’s another photo of the Meadows auditorium, in an article on seats.
That is awesome, Tinseltoes! That publication is an absolute treasure trove of information, and how great it is that it’s all been scanned and is available online! The blurb for the cover story says “New type of theatre opened for automobile trade by Century Circuit” so I went looking through the pages and found the story, which is fascinating – it’s even got a reproduction of one of the grand opening newspaper ads. (And according to the story, it was not actually built FOR Century Theatres; it was built by NY Life Insurance Co. as part of the adjacent housing project, and leased from plans by a VP of the Century Circuit)
Thanks for that link, Tinseltoes! The story about how that “prison” double bill was promoted in Flushing is even more illuminating than the photo — though “IN PERSON – SING WITH ‘BERNIE’ AT THE MIGHTY ORGAN” on the marquee gives another sense of the flavor of the times.
From the Danbury News-Times:
Library, theater plans move ahead
Posted: 06/20/2012 2:20 PM
RIDGEFIELD — Work on two interlocking projects — the $20 million Ridgefield Library and the Prospector Theatre — are poised to begin work within the next six weeks.
When the work is completed in late 2013, it will change the downtown landscape.
“It’s a radically important nexus for the town,‘’ said Planning and Zoning Commission member Michael Autuori of the two buildings.
The commission gave unanimous approval to the two projects Tuesday. It still must give final approval to the draft decision, but that’s expected to follow without issue.
“I’ve only seen the commission change its mind on draft decisions a couple of times,‘’ said attorney Robert Jewell, representing the library at Tuesday’s meeting. "This isn’t going to be one of those times.‘’
The move now allows the two projects to move forward.
“We have the financing,‘’ said Valerie Jensen, the leader of the move to demolish the old Ridgefield Playhouse on Prospect Street and rebuild it as the Prospector, a three-screen cinema and arts center.
Copyright © 2011 Hearst Communications Inc
So apparently, the massive marquee that covered the original curved one was a part of the “thorough modernization” of 1951?
Great link! Note it wasn’t simply called the Queensboro Theatre — it was the Queensboro Theatre Beautiful.
That’s an old photo from after the theater was closed but before the Rock Church replaced the marquee and removed the rest of the exterior ornamentation.
The UA Lefrak was also within walking distance.
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.
I just posted a scathing comment to that Queens Courier story. Let’s see what Melissa Chan has to say in reply!
I’m still unclear on where a non-profit group is getting the money to buy the building and completely rebuild it, but it’s better than the alternative. As for what’s inside — I doubt there’s much to see. It’s empty offices.
The truly absurd part of this story is that the Ridgefield Playhouse, if it reopens, can’t be called the Ridgefield Playhouse, because there’s now another Ridgefield Playhouse, which was originally the old high school auditorium. Which begs the question: If this foundation has the money to buy the original and rebuild it as a triplex, couldn’t they allow the current Ridgefield Playhouse, which is also a struggling non-profit, to co-occupy the old one and change the name back, rather than attempt to get the town to support TWO non-profit theaters?
New developments on the old Ridgefield Playhouse, which could be resurrected under a new name:
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…
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.
JamesD, what I meant to say was, “WE’RE not supposed to post personal attacks.” That’s why there’s nothing more I can say to you, except please go be a dick somewhere else.
Noisy? Crooked? Out of focus? What the heck are you talking about? JamesD, whoever you are, we’re not supposed to post personal attacks…so there’s nothing more I can say to you. Have a nice day!
SWC really has done an incredible job of singlehandedly documenting the Keith’s architectural details. He deserves an award, or something.
A kick to the stomach? Yes, but to those who’ve been following this story for a while, it’s not a kick caused by seeing what has become of the auditorium, but by seeing how much of the auditorium is still intact and salvageable despite decades of deliberate destruction and neglect — and will be lost if the party line about the place being “beyond saving” is followed and its demolition is finally allowed.
“Jackson Heights Triplex” would be more specific. “Jackson Triplex” could be in Jackson, Mississippi!