By Kathianne Boniello
Although the Bayside Movie Theater looks drastically different since construction fencing closed off the front of the building last month, at least one of the embattled tenants said this week that life inside has not changed much.
United Artists is believed to have sold the Bayside Movie Theater Oct. 19 to a Bayside lawyer, and in the weeks before the sale several tenants said they had been approached by someone claiming to be a new owner who tried to persuade them to leave so the building could be renovated.
The week of the rumored sale, which was not confirmed either by United Artist or Bayside lawyer Terry Triades before it occurred, the movie theater closed. About two weeks after UA sold the building to Triades construction fencing was erected outside the front of the theater and some construction work began. Neither Triades nor his partner could be reached for comment as of press time Tuesday.
Bob Reid, commissioner of the Bayside Little League, said his nonprofit organization has had no contact with the new owners of the building and has not gotten any information about the fate of the Little League, which has had a storefront there at least since the 1960s.
Last month the Little League’s office was damaged by a mysterious flood after a sink in a vacant apartment above the Little League was turned on while the drain of the sink was plugged up.
The fate of the large building on the corner of Bell Boulevard and 39th Avenue has been the subject of rumors for at least two years since United Artists declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and began to shop the property around. In 1999, Forest Hills developer Heskel Elias ran into community opposition when he tried to take over the space and develop a retail center there that would have included the Gap.
Elias eventually backed off and speculation as to the fate of the building and its tenants, which include several small businesses and residential renters, quieted until a few months ago when new sale rumors arose.
Reid said this week he has yet to be contacted by the building's new owners.
“Since the day of the sale, no one has come by,” said Reid, who said he heard a rumor that the tenants had six months to leave the building.
The Bayside Movie Theater is also home to a camera shop, a poster store and a car insurance office. A manager at the Phillips Brokerage said last month that his shop was set to leave the building and move further down Bell Boulevard, but the manager did not say whether the relocation was motivated by the sale of the Bayside Movie Theater building.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.