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Photo via Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects
Photo via Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects
A rendering of the proposed luxury condo building at the RKO Keiths site.

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) gave the green light on Tuesday to plans for the construction of a luxury condo building atop the historic RKO Keith’s Flushing Theater.

The movie palace at 135-29 Northern Blvd. opened in 1928 and was granted partial interior landmark status on its ornate grand lobby and ticket foyer spaces shortly before its closing in 1986. Vacant ever since, the site has passed between several developers who have tried unsuccessfully to bring their envisioned projects to fruition.

The existing front facade

The existing front facade

The historic property was most recently purchased in July 2016 for $66 million by Xin Development, an arm of China’s Xinyuan Real Estate. The development group presented their plans for the site at the May 16 LPC public hearing.

Plans filed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and Ayon Studio Architecture and Preservation show developers will build a glassy 16-floor building standing at just over 189 feet containing 269 apartment units. The existing landmarked ticket lobby and grand foyer will serve as the entryway for the residential building.

rendering

The commission unanimously voted to support the project with the stipulation that developers work with the city agency to ensure that the public still be able to access and view the landmarked space for at least a limited time a day, according to a report from Curbed.

Photos within the presentation illustrate the disrepair the landmarked areas have fallen under over the years.

sidebyside2

ticketfoyer

The developers will enclose the landmarked areas during construction and disassemble, restore off-site and reinstall salvaged ornamental plasterwork, woodwork and replicas. This approach has been used on other landmarked sites in the past, including The Lyric and Apollo Theaters in Manhattan.

Non-landmarked areas of the theater, like the auditorium, will be demolished.

According to the current estimated project schedule, removal of historic material will begin next month and the demolition of the non-landmarked surrounding building will begin in late October. The new building will begin to be constructed in late April 2018 and the project will closeout two years later.

The development group presented plans for the site to Community Board 7’s Landmarks and Land Use committees two weeks ago, according to first vice chair Chuck Apelian.

“We were very excited that they have taken on the project,” Apelian said. “We just think that it’s something that’s long overdue.”

 

File photo

File photo

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