RKO Keith project moves ahead – QNS.com

RKO Keith project moves ahead

After the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) unanimously approved the number of apartments in the complex, RKO Keith Theater developer Patrick Thompson moved closer to achieving a feat 25 years in the making.
The developer’s privately-funded $160 million plan to restore the landmark lobby, build a 17-story tower with stores and 357 rental apartments and a community center will begin construction either at the end of 2011, or – more than likely – the first quarter of 2012 according to Thompson’s spokesperson Michael Nussbaum.
“This development will be a new gateway to and from Flushing,” said Assemblymember Grace Meng. “I’ve received so many letters about this building over the years. People miss it. I’m really excited and the community is looking forward to it.”
After 50 years of being one of the city’s most popular moviehouses, the 2,900 seat RKO Keith was sold in 1986, gutted and has sat in ruin ever since. Nussbaum – who remembers going to the RKO Keith when he was a Whitestone youth – said that maintaining the buildings history is a high priority of the project.
“Previous plans to renovate the building were not marketable,” said Nussbaum. “Rentals are more attractive given the economic climate. We’re looking forward to finally concluding this project to help develop the northern area of Flushing and bring new investors to the area.”
Built approximately 7,000 feet from the runway at LaGuardia Airport, questions as to whether the 175-foot development received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval were dispelled by Nussbaum.
“It’s approved and in compliance. Community Board 7 would not have approved it if it were not,” said Nussbaum, who added that the plans for the tower’s height have not changed for the past six years.
Community Board 7 approved the plan but not before chair and vice president Eugene Kelty, Jr. and vice chair Charles Apelian voted against the project reportedly siting the development to be overly dense in terms of the building’s population and street traffic. So far, 385 parking spots have been allotted to the 357 apartments.

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