From the NY Times:
The building bears little resemblance to the extravagantly sumptuous “wonder theater” that wowed audiences in 1929.
The rusting, dirt-caked marquee that hangs outside the Loew’s Kings Theater over a bustling commercial stretch of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn last promoted a film in 1977. Years of neglect have left the interior rotted by time, stripped by thieves and desecrated by vandals and pigeons.
New York City, which seized the building decades ago in lieu of back taxes, has long teased the neighborhood with proposals to restore the lost luster of a local movie palace. But this time, the city says, it is for real.
A developer has signed an agreement, made a down payment on a $70 million renovation and plans to turn the building back into a functioning entertainment site, this time presenting live performances, city officials said Tuesday.
“We’re on our way to making that dream come true,” said Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, who is to formally announce the restoration in his State of the Borough address Wednesday.
After a four-year process — and many false starts — the city has selected a company based in Houston, ACE Theatrical Group, to renovate and operate the theater. It would be, once again, the biggest indoor theater in Brooklyn, presenting 250 concerts, theatrical performances and community events annually, officials said.
“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.”
ACE, which has worked on similar restoration projects throughout the country, including the Boston Opera House, will soon begin a review and design process that is expected to take a couple of years. Preliminary plans call for the space to open as soon as 2014, Mr. Pinsky said. The city has committed $50 million to the project, with another $15 million coming in the form of tax credits and $5 million from the developer, which would also be responsible for any extra spending, said Mr. Pinsky.
On a stretch of Flatbush Avenue near Beverly Road — which the theater shares with discount furniture and clothing stores, a vacant lot and a boarded-up storefront — news of the renovation was greeted with enthusiasm by residents who had never been inside it.
So the city condemned the Kings and is pouring millions upon millions into its restoration, but the RKO Keiths of Flushing is allowed to remain a festering eyesore in the heart of what we are told is the most vibrant, diverse neighborhood in the city.
Makes sense. Here's another take on it from a reader:
"...so they spend $70 million to restore a trashed movie palace in Brooklyn but we have to put up with Tommy Huang and elected officials cutting deals for an 18-story building just to save a fucking lobby at the RKO Keith's? It's despicable."
Yes, it certainly is. But that's what happens when the electorate repeatedly empowers a bunch of Manes-era tweeders and a developer mayor. The current state of the RKO Keith's is actually the perfect reflection of the borough. So what are you going to do about it?
Read Kevin Walsh's timely Huffington Post article about the effort to save the RKO Keith's.