Loew’s King Theatre To Be Restored

loews-king-theatre-0210.jpg
After years of talking about it, the city announced yesterday that it had finally found developer to restore and run the historic Loew’s King Theatre at 1025 Flatbush Avenue. Under the plan structured by the EDC, the Houston-based ACE Theatrical Group, which has restored a number of historic theaters around the country, would put up $5 million towards converting the building, most recently used in 1977 as a movie theater, to a performance space, while the city would kick in $50 million in development funds and another $15 million in tax credits. We feel like we have a deal we can deliver on, said Seth W. Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. We are confident this project is going to move forward. The plan is for the refurbished theater to host approximately 250 live events, including concerts, theatrical performances and community events.

At Neglected Movie Palace, Cobwebs Given Notice [NYT]
Developer Save the Kings? [Brownstoner] GMAP
A Chance to Bring Back an Old Brooklyn Gem [Brownstoner]
Photo by tony10036

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  • This is so important due to event space challenged nature of BKLYN, especially central Brooklyn. Really will be great, and huge cash commitment by City a result of decades of work by the Borough President. Flatbush rising!

  • Is this really economically viable….will revenue, tax, business gernerated really create a return for the city?
    Yes, it was an amazing theater….but was pretty over the top (gaudy) and very expensive to redo and maintain.
    (after all….isn’t it dark most of the time when in there anyway?)

  • i wish it was an actual movie theatre and not a performance space. not a big fan of theatrical and community performances, but music acts in it would be good if it cant be a movie movie theatre, but i guess there’s already other movie theatres around (tho seriously why are the movie theatres in brooklyn SOOOOO grungy??!)

    *rob*

  • Great news! As chrishavens said, the area needs events spaces, especially one that can bring in a large variety of events. The historic nature of the theatre will bring in certain events, while the location, and hopefully variety of price options will bring in many others. Very few developers will take a chance on something that doesn’t have a prayer to make a profit in the long run, so the business plan must be sound. I’m glad Brooklyn didn’t give up on the building, so kudos to Marty’s office, too. I can’t wait to see.

    Also, this will be an opportunity for first class artistic restoration jobs, perhaps some training for new restorers, and some general construction jobs. So a good thing, indeed.

  • This will be an amazing asset for the community and the entire Borough. These atmospheric theaters (hint: Montrose another topic) are just great when restored and repainted and brought back to glittery life. This company, ACE, restored a very similar theater in Boston and it is a success there. What is amazing is that this building has survived and is restorable. It is prety far south of the brownstone belt though.

  • I remember going to the sub-divided Kingsway (orig. RKO Kingsway)on Kings Highway and Coney Island Ave. which has seen better days. That was a nice art deco but this is something else, not over the top though, just an elegant time portal to another era.

    My dad used to tell me about the old, grand movie houses of Brooklyn. The one pictured above might be one of the if not the best representation of the older “opera-house” movie palace style.

    I just hope that my sneakers don’t stick to the floor after 2 years. This is Brooklyn after all.

  • Now this is good news. I love this place and can imagine it could be Brooklyn’s Beacon or something like that, with amazing mid sized rock concerts and theatrical events.

  • “It is pretty far south of the brownstone belt though.”
    -Minard Lafever

    Brownstone Brooklyn was already becoming pretty slummy by the time many of these things were being built. Flatbush was the newly built middle-class suburb of early 20th Century Brooklyn.

  • Great news! I hope Montrose is right and they do create trades programs so people can learn skills from the restoration, the way St. John the Divine created their excellent programs.

  • http://cinematreasures.org/theater/902/

    Loew’s 46th Street Theatre
    Brooklyn, NY
    4515 New Utrecht Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11219

    What a legacy it would be for a billionaire to restore and preserve all of these movie palaces before it is too late.

  • The map shows that it is convenient to Ditmas park and PP South. I have to confess I have never noticed this building nor gone in. But I know theaters like it. This looks like an excellent example of its type. Most have been demolished and many others are now churches.

  • I have doubts about the success of this project.

    There is already a succesful performing-arts space in the area (Whitman theatre in nearby Brooklyn College). They have a quite good program AND there is parking available. It is really, really tough to park in the area around the Kings.

    I wonder if this theater could be viable just based on foot and subway traffic.

    This is about the 5th time a deal has been announced to save this theater, and they all have gone nowhere.

  • benson, this group, ACE (Arts Center Enterprises) is a no-nonsense serious business. They are based in Texas and have succesfully renovated a dozen or more theaters throughout the country including the Boston Opera House, the Warner theater in Washington DC, the Chicago Theater and many others. They have a business model that works. This is not a local amateur operation.
    By the way I looked it up in the AIA Guide and the theater dates to 1929 and was designed by Rapp and Rapp -foremost theater architects of their day.

  • Minard;

    Well, I can always be pleasantly surprised!
    ;-)

    PS: in its last days as a theater in the mid-70′s, one of the ways it tried to stay afloat was to serve as a venue for graduation ceremonies. BAM, which was also down and out at the time, did the same thing. So many graduation ceremonies were held at BAM and the Kings back then! My wife’s HS graduation ceremony was held at the Kings, as was my cousin’s.

  • Last time I looked, there was a second adjacent building/lot suitable for conferences/offices and a third lot behind these buildings for parking or a parking structure.

  • I can see this theater becoming the most famous performing venue for Caribbean artists. This could help solidify and promote Flatbush as the center for the Caribbean community in the US.

    …But let me know if you think this is an overstatement.

  • You are right, Harriet, and that could certainly be a great asset in a business plan for the space. The more events that happen, the better for the theatre. It would also help the neighborhood, hopefully promoting new businesses, helping existing businesses and beautifying that part of Flatbush Ave, which has some important and great architecture and history nearby.

  • Good point about parking; unless they develop an adjacent lot as a garage, there basically is none, and the immediate surrounding area, while “vibrant” (NY Timesspeak) with discount stores and fast food joints, may still scare off a lot of foot and subway traffic from more gentrified areas. Another eXCELLENT point: the Kings as a golden venue to bring Caribbean culture in the area to the next level (although it’s true that Whitman Center at Brooklyn College has excellent programming and facilities appealing to all Brooklyn’s big ethnic groups every year).

    This brings up a very important point: surrounding community as stakeholder. The entire Flatbush Ave. strip there between Church Ave. and Cortelyou–the Dutch Reformed Church, Erasmus High, even the Art Deco Sears–used to be the core of the historic village of Flatbush, and later the upscale hub of Jewish middle-class Brooklyn shopping. E-bay is full of postcards of its marvels from 1900 through the WWII era. But rapid turnover in population, like that experienced by this area in recent decades, tends to erase historical memory; and folks still struggling to establish themselves in a new culture and economy are not prime candidates to put local historic preservation as a high priority, aesthetically or politically. As the Caribbean community moves into its second, third and more generations here, getting them psychically and economically invested in the historic heritage of old Flatbush will be a worthwhile challenge, and essential to keeping these treasures as living resources instead of Walking Tour Destinations for White Folks from the Brownstone Belt.
    Example of sad lost opportunity: Years ago, as a Brooklyn Botanic Garden tour guide, I had a group of kids on a tour from Erasmus High, sullen, angry and in a truancy-prevention program. I started our mutual introduction by expressing admiration for their magnificent and historic (if now troubled) school, founded by Alexander Hamilton and other colonial luminaries and attended by celebs including (if memory serves) Barbra Streisand and Bobby Fischer. None had a clue about its great past; they thought the historic gem in the courtyard was a storage shed; and their only comment about their alma mater was, “It sucks.” Any school in that building (which is a few blocks from the Loews Kings and the 200-year-old Dutch church!) should have made living history the core of its honor and its mission. Now the historic building at its heart is at risk of ruin, and those kids were denied the opportunity to participate in their community’s heritage through effective education. Yet I fear many will tend to write off the “locals” as stakeholders in any Flatbush historic ventures because of cultural unfamiliarity with Flatbush’s Dutch and Jewish past. That would be a huge mistake. Time to get creative with partnerships here!

  • Awesome news! It was always just heartbreaking to walk or drive by this huge old theatre sitting there silent and waiting to come back alive. I know we’ll be supportive of this theatre in every way – from donations to memberships to attending events. Many many residents in all the Flatbush neighborhoods will do so I’m sure, and being that they’re all very organized neighborhoods with active community organizations and blogs and cultural groups I’d be optimistic about the theatre’s success. Not sure the Brooklyn college neighborhood is capable of providing the same thing, Benson. That’s a very specific kind of community there. I wouldn’t compare the two at all.

  • Well said, Brenda.

  • If the massive parking lot behind the LK theater (you can see part of it in this satellite image) could be converted into a garage, it would go a long way towards easing the parking situation:

    http://www.planetplg.com/images/loews-sat.jpg

  • Love him or hate’him, Marty certainly champions projects which bring disparate groups together for the collective good of the borough. Great public places with top-notch programs and a local sports team identity helps keep secterianism at bay. If you doubt that, go see Invictus

  • Yay Marty!
    I’m told he attended the court hearing on the threatened MacDonnough Street houses yesterday. What’s new with that? Are we dropping the ball? Have the house been saved or are they still in jeopardy?

  • Great news, I hope the pull it off. Excellent commentary from Brenda, thanks.

  • Brenda,

    Thank you for such eloquent and insightful commentary.

    New York City is one of the only cities in the country that does not require local history as part of the curriculum of its schools. I remember my disbelief at being told that by my 7th grade Social Studies teacher.

  • Great news! Next in line is the Loews Pitkin.