The long-delayed plans for RKO Keith’s Theater in Flushing have been approved by Community Board 7 after years of the property passing through the hands of multiple developers.
Board members unanimously passed a motion at the monthly board meeting Monday night approving developer JK Equities’ revised plan for the historic theater at 135-35 Northern Blvd. in Flushing. The company’s reworked blueprint increased the building’s height and reduced the number of rental units and parking spaces.
Chuck Apelian, CB 7’s first vice chairman and chairman of the land use committee, said the board has previously asked for a movie theater to be built in downtown Flushing, but to no avail. “We don’t have any development plans in front of us,” Apelian said. “I don’t have anybody standing here with the money to build the theater. The way it’s gone, it went from developer to developer to developer at this point. I can’t change that.”
He was momentarily interrupted by Jerry Rotondi, a member of the Committee to Save the RKO Keith’s Theater in Flushing, who insisted that plans were presented to save the theater.
Historic preservationists were staunchly opposed to the plan. In a statement, the Committee to Save the RKO Keith’s criticized former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman for not supporting the theater.
“We could have had a restored showcase theater,” said Cheshire Frager, a member of the committee.
Michael Donnelly, a New York City District Council of Carpenters representative, said the developer has not made a commitment to quality construction jobs.
“These units will now be marketed to wealthier individuals and contribute to the gentrification of the neighborhood,” Donnelly said. “The absence of a commitment in the development of high-quality construction jobs for the members of the community further enforces this impression.”
Apelian introduced a separate resolution that would consider converting the planned 16,000-square-foot space from a senior center into community facility space.