Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Another shady developer to own the RKO Keith's

From the Daily News:

A Manhattan real estate investment firm close to snagging the drama-plagued RKO Keith's movie palace already faces heat from Flushing leaders over a construction just blocks away.

Sam Suzuki of Venator Capital LLC, which is reportedly buying the historic theater, built rowhouses in 2000 that blocked Fire Department access to an apartment complex at Bowne St. and 38th Ave., locals charge.

The city Buildings Department will try to send an inspector to check on the complaints at the Bownetree rentals, said agency spokeswoman Carly Sullivan.

Preservationists fear Suzuki will continue a decades-long saga at the RKO Keith's. The city revoked the permits of its notorious former owner, Tommy Huang, in 1990 after he let crews bulldoze its landmarked grand staircase.

"A little red flag just went up in my head," said Jerry Rotondi, 67, of Flushing, who has fought for two decades to save the 1928 theater on Northern Blvd. at Main St.

Officials at Community Board 7 seemed uneasy about Suzuki owning the RKO Keith's.

"If we're going to sell something to this guy, I want to make sure he doesn't build something like he built" at Bownetree, said board chairman Gene Kelty.

The board's district manager, Marilyn Bitterman, called the Bownetree rowhouses "awful."

"The RKO Keith's has been like a cancer in downtown Flushing forever," said ex-Queens Borough President Claire Shulman.

Well then, Claire, you and the Keith's have a lot in common!


Flushing Friend said...

We need more citizen activists like Jerry Rotundi! With people like him around, the Queens machine wouldn't be able to get over on the taxpaying citizenry.

Anonymous said...

Claire Shulman? Isn't she the one that allowed the destruction of the Aquacade? It seems she is responsible for the deterioration and/or destruction of many Queens historical sites. I heard that she also did illegal lobbying for Willets Point. Is that true?

Anonymous said...

What the point with the Keith at this juncture - it's been gutted, spilled oil etc - it's just not the Keith any-more - give it up. If the latest developer is like the previous one - nix the CO.

Anonymous said...

What the point with the Keith at this juncture - it's been gutted, spilled oil etc - it's just not the Keith any-more - give it up. If the latest developer is like the previous one - nix the CO.
Thanks Claire but who wants your opinion?

Anonymous said...

What the point with the Keith at this juncture - it's been gutted, spilled oil etc - it's just not the Keith any-more - give it up. If the latest developer is like the previous one - nix the CO.

Judging by your Engrish you must want another Korean mall built on the RKO Keith site.

Save the RKO Keith!

Anonymous said...

It's such a shame what happened to this theater. I had some good times there growing up.

Jerry Rotondi said...

Sorry to have to state (or restate) the facts...but it was Claire Shulman herself who refused to support the Landmarks Preservation Commission's original full interior designation of the Keith's back from the very beginning.

This would have protected all of the theater's spaces...including the auditorium, lounges, as well as its ticket lobby, grand foyer, etc.

But it was back in 1984 that deputy borough president Shulman lobbied on behalf of her boss Donald Manes at a Board of Estimate hearing to approve only a partial interior designation...
the ticket lobby and grand foyer.

After waiting the necessary two years until 1986 to comply with all legalities...the Committee To Save The RKO Keith's Theatre of Flushing Inc. resubmitted the original full interior designation to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Over 3,500 constituents signed petitions in support of this measure.

These petitions were then forwarded by certified return receipt mail to then Borough President Shulman, the LPC and Mayor Koch.

Shulman refused her support once again with callous indifference.

She even had the audacity to state that she had not even received the certified mail petition signatures at a "Queens Unity Day" event held at at the "Reception House" on Northern Boulevard in 1987!

Thus after lying to and blowing off 3,500 concerned citizens she now refers to the historic Keith's theater as a "cancer" decades later.'s you who have been the malignancy that has eaten up a good part of our borough's history.

The shame of it will be your legacy!

Anonymous said...

The people arriving in Flushing now have no clue and could care less about the amazing history of this small Queens town, a town that is now being raped by developers and crooked politicians! The newcomers are becoming a majority of the area's population. How sad that culture and history have to be bulldozed to satisfy their cravings.

Anonymous said...

Its a noble casue but what could it be turned into that would be a viable money making place and also preserve the integrity of the structure. Its a bygone era and unfortunately, its not going to survive.

Anonymous said...

Until the ticket lobby and grand foyer are restored and utilized within a new structure or become dust...all eyes will be watching the Keith's Theater!

Be sure of that!

A theater watch group of nearby residents still maintains its vigilance of this historic remnant.

E-mail contact and telephone trees report any suspicious activity as they have since Tommy Huang acquired the theater back in 1986.

These "die-hards" just refuse to give up!

G-d bless you!

Anonymous said...

You lazy pessimists...there is still use for its unique landmark portions!

Obviously some you dumb asses have little imagination!

Even Shya Boymelgreen had vision enough to incorporate the ticket lobby & grand foyer into his building.

They were to be a vintage attraction and would have complimented his project.

Why do we hang "useless" old Rembrandt paintings from an out of date era on our walls?

F-----g thick skulled barbarians!

Anonymous said...

As long as something "American" is built it's ok with me. Just please no more chinese or korean mall/supermarket, condo etc....

Anonymous said...

Bless you Jerry Rotondi, you're a good man.

Flushing Friend said...

Bless you Jerry Rotondi, you're a good man.


Anonymous said...

Why do we hang "useless" old Rembrandt paintings from an out of date era on our walls?
a rembrandt the rko is not.

maybe it could a similar to the cinemart or kew gardens cinemas in forest hills and kew gardens respectively.

Anonymous said...

It's sad, but isn't this what the British did to the Indians? Bulldoze through their land? What a double standard. I hate to admit it because this over development is literally driving me crazy!!!!!! I've been here 20+ years. But what's going to happen will happen. I appreciate people who fight to preserve the past. It's noble. But it seems the Asians have money, and lots of it too! Where there is money breed corruption. sigh...

Anonymous said...

Random thought that came to me while pondering the theater.. the city should buy it and make it an elite performing arts school.. aka better than or move Frank Sinatra H.S., in the process preserving major parts of the building. Anyone else like this idea?

Anonymous said...

And by buy it I meant use eminent domain.. because it will actually be used for the public unlike how they want to use eminent domain across the Flushing River

Anonymous said...

"a rembrandt the rko is not"...
Another commenter who maybe can't "lite engrish" so good?

Cap "R" & caps "RKO"...dummy!

Jerry Rotondi said...

Thanks "Flushing Friend"
and others for your kind thoughts.

I can't take sole credit because there were others before Barry Lewis, Robert Clayton, William Mc mention just a few original members who began the work in 1980.

I'm just round two...1986 to date.

Then there are the other current committee members along with me who continue the work.

Everybody involved past and present needs a blessing.

stage ghost said...

Imagine that decrepit, corrupt old bitch-bag Shulman mouthing off about the Keith's as if it were her own personal annoyance!

She's just f-----g pissed off that she and Manes couldn't completely wreck it earlier according to their schedule.

The committee to save the Keith's spoiled their plans!

None of these crooks thought these guys would bulldog them for over a quarter of a century!

Granny Shulman's face is in far worse shape than the RKO's auditorium.

I'll bet the Keith's outlasts her.

Anonymous said...

Huang, Boymelgreen, Suzuki:

Why out of the three owners
it's the Asian ones who are shady?

Artemis said...

This whole thing makes me sick -- I'm in disbelief and disgusted!!

I know about scums Shulman and Donald Manes' other scams, but not about what, if anything, they planned for the RKO theater that led them to deny it protection as a landmark.

What the increasing Asian population is doing in Flushing resembles what they're doing along the Bowery and Herald Square in Manhattan. This (Americana, New York City history, etc.) is not their culture, so they feel nothing about buying and demolishing, replacing historic buildings and architectural gems with ugly high-density structures for their own.

If they can't respect the areas they are taking over by virtue of making babies and immigration, they should be forced to by way of historic districts and landmark designations that do not allow demolition or modification, under severe penalties for transgressors.

CAN'T the sale of the theater be delayed or stopped, pending a possible purchase by either the city (a local city councilperson should be able to get this through) or a group of concerned people who raise the money?

Wishful thinking, I know. The TRULY obscene thing here is that even as the beautiful irreplaceable RKO theater deteriorates to the point of no return as the owner writes off any loss on his taxes, the site increases in value ANYway!!

These fuckers should be shot and then deported!!!!

Anonymous said...

pholyndlthe best things about the rko was their bathrooms.they were from another part of time remember the water fountin in the mens room??? remember the sky in the balcony?? remember the last row in the balcony drinking beer. IREMEMBER WATCHING 13 GHOSTS IN THE RKO.. AHH SUCH GOOD TIMES.. to restore it would be great BUT who will come back to enjoy it?? flushing has no use for past beauty..such a shame jim mahopac

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"It ain't over 'til it's over"....jerkoff!

Maybe we should all go piss on Manes' grave. And eventually Shulman's.

Then it will be over!

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should all go piss on Manes' grave. And eventually Shulman's.

Why wait? Let's piss on her now! After all, her favorite song is "Urine The Money" and she has no problem collecting her illegal and ill-gotten gains. When you think about it, she already looks like a corpse!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to pee all over her face but I wouldn't risk placing the "family jewels" that close to her oversize dentures!

Granny what sharp teeth you have!

Oops....I think she must have just read this post and dropped them on her feet!


Anonymous said...

Manes, Shulman and their Taiwanese accomplices have ruined Flushing....turned it into a low class melting wok!

Up Chuck said...

turned it into a low class melting wok!

Thank you for my chuckle of the day...and it's still early!

allen said...

Sam Suzuki is a big crook and not to be trusted.