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After some controversy, it looks like the Brooklyn Heights Cinema building at 70 Henry Street will make way for a new five-story rental build. Last night the architects Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel presented plans to the CB2 Landuse Committee for a five-story, 17-unit build with a movie theater on the first floor and in a section of the basement. The theater will still run under the ownership of the Brooklyn Heights Cinema with a lobby on the first floor and the theater in the basement. There will also be commercial space along Henry Street. Architect Randolph Gerner immediately addressed preservationists’ concerns that the building was “an integral part of the Brooklyn Heights Landmark District and should not be demolished.” He said the lot originally housed a five-story tenement with a one-story attached building for the proprietor of the site. A commissioned historical report of 70 Henry deemed that the one-story building (now the theater) underwent enough change that it “no longer retains its historical significance.” And so the replacement is decidedly modern; as Gerner said, “We’re borrowing from historic materials in a modern fashion.” The proposal involves a brick facade and massive steel windows that feel reminiscent of the look at the 20 Henry Street addition, sans balconies. The committee approved the design and seemed pleased that the movie theater would be retained. It wasn’t brought up, but it looks like there will only be a single screen. The lease for the Brooklyn Heights Cinema is up in June. If you’ll excuse a very blurry photo of the rendering from last night, click through to the jump. The architect told us he’d rather wait to release an official image after the vote from the LPC.
Preservationists: Heights Cinema Shouldn’t be Demolished [Brownstoner]
Brooklyn Heights Cinema Owner on 70 Henry Development [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo via PropertyShark

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There was news recently about how Tom Caruana, the owner of the building that houses the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, at 70 Henry Street, intends to demolish the structure in order to build a new condo, but it turns out Caruana is thinking twice about his plans following criticism from neighborhood preservationists. The Eagle reports on how Caruana decided not to present his plans to Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee:

Both Robert Perris, district manager of Community Board 2, and Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, told the Eagle that this decision followed a meeting between the building owner and the Heights Association’s own Landmarks Committee. She said that the committee, which contains three architectural historians, did research on the building’s history and came to the conclusion that it was an integral part of the Brooklyn Heights Landmark District and should not be demolished. The circa-1895 building was always a commercial building, but had a varied history, before it was converted into a cinema around 1970. Stanton said that research has revealed that the building, as originally constructed, was made of fine brick, had cast-iron columns and other details that were consistent with the neighborhood. Even though many of these details were later covered up or painted over, she says, “four-fifths of the original masonry still exists.” After the presentation, the owner apparently decided he had more homework to do.

Heights Cinema Plans on Hold [Eagle]
Photo via PropertyShark

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Brooklyn Heights Blog has a post written by Kenn Lowy, who took over the ownership of Brooklyn Heights Cinema earlier this year, about how the landlord of the theater at 70 Henry Street intends to demolish the building and develop a condo in its place. According to Lowy, the cinema’s lease ends on June 30th, but it’s unclear when demolition will start. Lowy says he’s intent on opening the theater in a new location somewhere in the area.
Brooklyn Heights Cinema Owner Kenn Lowy Responds to Possible Closing [BHB] GMAP
Photo by bartek/yetseen