Saturday, March 15, 2008

Kings County Kings Theater up for rehab


Saving the majestic Loews Kings theater in Brooklyn could cost a whopping $70 million.

After more than a year of planning, the city has begun soliciting bids from developers interested in restoring Flatbush's 79-year-old jewel, which closed in 1978, its French Renaissance interior in dire need of repair.

Rehabbing the city-owned, 63,000-square-foot ex-vaudeville house, at 1025-35 Flatbush Ave., could anchor a bigger project, one involving air rights, a 750-spot parking lot, a boutique hotel and retail shops.

The city puts the cost at $70 million, noting that the 3,195-seat interior has long been damaged by leaks and pigeons.

The theater's revival and a planned Coney Island amphitheater are two projects that Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz wants to see completed before he leaves office at the end of 2009.

Bruce Friedman, whose Save the Kings grass-roots group has toiled for 20 years to bring the theater back, envisions its basement, once the site of employees' basketball games, as someday housing a jazz or comedy club.

Part of the Loews Kings' legacy is its A-list of former employees - among them Barbra Streisand and Sylvester Stallone.

There's also a video here: Loews Kings


Jerry rotondi said...

Too bad that Claire Shulman
IGNORED the request of over 3,500 petition signers
to do the same for RKO Keith's Flushing theater.
(The entire site is still listed
on the National Register of Historic Places).

Shulman DENIED receiving these petitions ,
on "Queens Unity Day"
held at "Reception House" in east Flushing
on Northern Boulevard in 1987.

They were sent

Tommy Huang paid about
3.4 million dollars for the building in 1986.

It would have been a simple matter
for NYC to invoke eminent domain proceedings
(in this case for the good of all)
and buy the theater outright while it was
still in great shape.

This would have complemented all that's going on
with the building of City Fields Stadium etc. today.

But the Shul-Manes administration
thought it was more "expedient"to pour
endless millions into that money pit
in the middle of nowhere "Theater In The Park"!

Bruce Friedman had invited
The Committee To Save The RKO Keith's
into the Loew's Kings
(in the late 80s /early 90s)
and we supported the cause of restoring it.

This is one of the five "wonder theaters"
that Marcus Loew built in the metro area.

in various states of preservation.

The roster includes:

The "Loew's Jersey" (Jersey City)
which has been beautifully and fully restored
as a performing arts center.
(Look up their web site. It's fantastic to see
what could have been for Flushing).

The landmarked "Loew's Paradise"
(Grand Concourse, Bronx)
was more recently fully rehabilitated
for use as a wedding/social function/
reception/performing arts center.

The landmarked "Loew's Valencia"
(Jamaica, Queens) is the home of the
Tabernacle of Prayer For All People"since the 1970s when it was donated to the church
by the Loew's Corporation.

The "Loew's 175th Street" (Manhattan)
is the location of Reverend Ike's Church.
(I'm not sure about its current state or use status).

And last, but not least,
the "Loew's Kings" (Brooklyn).

Additional note:
"The Kings" has a real wood paneled lobby
and not the usual faux plaster variety.

I'm now speaking to ALL of our elected officials, business associations, CB#7 et al.

How about EMINENT DOMAIN for the
RKO Keith's today? It's not too late
and may be the best solution in the long run.

in making this a beneficial multi use project
and return it as Flushing's main attraction
and focal point.

It still occupies its current prominent position
as the gateway to our vibrant community.

Anonymous said...

It nice to see that some grass roots groups are taken seriously and not alternately ignored or belittled by the polticians, community boards, newspapers, and preservation community.

Its nice to see that some people are not wasting their lives by pissing into the wind like here in Queens.

Anonymous said...

Oh please. If someone proposed a $70 million expansion of RKO Keith's, with retail and a hotel, you would all whine and yell about overdevelopment, "out-of-context" building, etc., etc.

jerry rotondi said...

That's very true.

If the preservation community had acted in concert
and FIRMLY put their foot down
(the same applies to our elected officials)
regarding the Keith's theater in the 1980s,
Flushing's crown jewel would be sparkling today.

Anonymous said...

Thank god the Kings Theater is in Brooklyn.

jerry rotondi said...


Actually the estimated budget for
Boymelgreen's entire RKO project ran about
80-90 million dollars , if I recall it correctly.

The"Committee to Save The Keith's" was invited
to attend all of CB#7's committee meetings.

Boymelgreen's plans were approved by CB#7
after several changes.

However, a proposed change in increasing the FAR
of some of the condo apartments was not approved.

An estimate of approximately 20 million dollars
for the restoration of the interior landmarked spaces
was submitted by the owner.

jerry rotondi said...


The "Committee to Save The RKO Keith's Theatre
of Flushing Inc." always favored "creative re-use "
of the theater building as far back as 1986.

It was so stated on our original petitions.

We also voted to APPROVE the Boymelgreen project
at the CB#7 meeting.

It was the best realistic offer on the table at the time.

Anonymous said...

It's sad what happened to the RKO. I do hope the Kings gets restored.