Monday, January 28, 2013

The Loew's Kings Theatre rehab begins; how much will it become borough venue for graduations?

Photo by Kathryn Kirk/Borough President's Office
On 1/23/13, officials held a groundbreaking for the restoration of the the 3,200-seat Loew’s Kings Theatre in Flatbush, built in 1929 and closed since 1977. It's the largest indoor theater in Brooklyn, and its ornate French Renaissance Style design is remembered fondly by old-timers (and was the site of Borough President Marty Markowitz's first date).

From a Markowitz press release:
Following preliminary work untaken by ACE Theatrical over the last three years, New York City has executed a 55-year lease with the Kings Theatre Redevelopment Corporation – a consortium of ACE Theatrical, Goldman Sachs and the National Development Council – to begin the full redevelopment and rehabilitation of the theatre. The project was financed through funding from the City, Marty Markowitz, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and United Fund Advisors.
...“Restoring the glory of the Loew’s Kings Theatre into a combination of the Beacon and the Apollo all rolled into one has long been a dream of mine and the Flatbush community—and now it is time for the theater’s triumphant ‘encore.’ Not only will the new facility be the largest indoor theater in the borough—hosting everything from concerts and plays to special events and graduation ceremonies—it will be an engine of economic growth along Flatbush Avenue and for all of Central Brooklyn.”
...The $93.9 million project is estimated to create more than 500 construction jobs and 50 permanent jobs. In addition, each performance will create additional temporary jobs for theatrical freelancers. As part of the project, the theatre will be expanded from its original approximately 68,000 square-foot space to approximately 93,000 square feet to enable it to be used as a live performance venue, with a suitable backstage area not originally part of the movie theatre. Once renovations are complete in late 2014 the theatre is expected to host between 200 and 250 performances a year.
What about graduations?

As I pointed out three years ago, it will be interesting to see how much the Loew's Kings becomes the go-to venue for Brooklyn high school and college graduations, which is, of course, a function that the Atlantic Yards arena was supposed to fulfill. (One consultant's report predicted a very high cost of $100,000 per event, though arena developers later said that was overblown.)

Likely the Loew's Kings will be cheaper. Then again, it's not adjacent to any subway station, so it's not as accessible as the arena. So far, the arena was used for a New York Police Department swearing-in ceremony last month for 1159 new officers. (I haven't seen any reports on what the city was charged, and whether that represents a discount.)


The Loew's Kings is expected to have much more of a local/borough audience. Indeed, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement expects a "modal split of 50 percent by auto, 14 percent  by taxi, 18 percent by subway, 9 percent by bus, and 9 percent by walk."



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