The landmarked but badly rundown RKO Keith's Theatre in the heart of Flushing, Queens will be reborn as a huge apartment complex with 357 rental units and 360 parking spaces, according to a new filing by the project's developer, Patrick Thompson.
Developer Shaya Boymelgreen, the previous owner of the site, had planned to build a condominium tower there. Last month, Mr. Thompson submitted an application with the city's Board of Standards and Appeals for changes to the development, which he first proposed after taking over the property last year.
His new application calls for a big increase in the number of units and a slight increase in commercial space, to 17,460 square feet from 10,957 square feet. Previously, the development, located on Northern Boulevard, was approved for 200 units and 229 parking spaces. The 314,000-square-foot project is estimated to cost $160 million.
The BSA is expected to vote on the amendments in March after Community Board 7 meets and provides its recommendation for the plan on Jan. 18. CB 7 approval is not needed for BSA approval, but it will be taken into consideration, said Howard Goldman, Mr. Thompson's land use attorney for the project.
From the Daily News:
Thompson and architect Jay Valgora are revising the plans of Huang's successor, developer Shaya Boymelgreen, to place a senior center, retail and apartments there. They envision two floors of stores and 14 levels of residences.
"We want to really overcome the tragic side of this story and create a new landmark for Flushing," Valgora said.
As a tribute to the site's legacy in film and vaudeville, Valgora designed a "curtain of glass" facade that he hopes will display the landmarked lobby to passersby on Northern Blvd. at Main St.
Valgora plans to protect the lobby during construction by threading steel around its distinct features. Crews will demolish the ruined structure around the lobby in a process he described as architectural arthroscopic surgery.
Inside the three-story lobby, Valgora wants to rebuild a long-lost Moorish fountain that once greeted moviegoers. He said he will restore the staircase and a painted sky on the ceiling.
He vowed to base his restoration on renderings by noted theater architect Thomas Lamb, who first imagined the RKO Keith's in the late 1920s.
Thompson is set to present his plans to Community Board 7's land use subcommittee on Jan. 26 and the full board on Feb. 14.
The land use chairman, Chuck Apelian, said Thompson's plans for 357 apartments and 360 parking spaces at the H-shaped building would be too dense for already bustling downtown Flushing.
But Assemblywoman Grace Meng, state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky and City Councilman Peter Koo have all expressed support for the transformation.