Brooklyn Paper: Brooklyn Heights Cinema Endangered?

According to Kate Briquelet’s story, the beloved Brooklyn Heights Cinema, recently rescued and revitalized by BHB Ten honoree Kenn Lowy, may be demolished to make way for (what else?) a five story residential building.

Brooklyn Paper: Next Wednesday, building owner Tom Caruana will present plans for a new structure at 70 Henry St. at Community Board 2’s Landmarks Committee — an early step in gaining city permission to demolish an edifice in the landmarked neighborhood, according to District Manager Rob Perris.

The article quotes Caruana as unwilling to reveal details of his plans, but saying he will “move forward” as soon as possible. Lowy is quoted as saying he will do whatever is necessary to keep the Cinema going, even if he has to move it to DUMBO.

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  • Andrew Porter

    When I first moved here, it was a hardware store, with a barber shop on Orange Street.

  • BronxKid

    Brooklyn Heights doesn’t need another high priced residential building. Nice of the owner to suggest relocating to DUMBO, but it is not convenient for most people – just too long a walk, especially for the elderly.

  • Joe From Grace

    It adds a ton of character and charm to the neighborhood and would be a tremendous lost.

  • AEB

    Agree with Joe. It’s not that one actually wants to see movies there, but to see IT. A bit of non-real estate in BH.

  • Wrennie

    That would be a big loss. It’s so easy to head there without really having to plan ahead or anything.

    And again–enough with the new residential buildings. There are no schools to support the kids that will likely live there.

  • Curmudgeon

    This is sad and will only serve to further eliminate the landmarks protection of the Heights. By chipping away at the protections in the area, a little here and a little there, the real estate interests always seem to win. The building in which the Cinema is located is a fairly non-distinguished 19th century structure, although sometimes erroneously listed as being built in 1941, but nevertheless it has been a one story building for more than 120 years, unlike the other one story buildings nearby on Henry Street. Because the building is so small and non-distinguished, look for the owner to try to “wow” us with modern and sleek new design. The argument will then shift the merits of the design and the protection argument will fade. That is the modus operandi of these developers – just assume that there is a God-given right to build what they want.

    What compelling need is there for another condo in the area? When the owner bought the building, did he not know there was landmarks protection? So the only thing that seems to have changed is his notion that he could possibly make a killing in the real estate market with a business friendly LPC and Mayor in place. Do you think the neighborhood is going to win this one? Probably not, and get ready for more of the same because when there is money is to be made …

  • Hayley

    This is terrible. Is our councilman going to fight it?

  • maria

    Curmudgeon you are spot on! Furthermore, the cinema adds to charm of this neighborhood and is what keeps it a neighborhood.
    Will Brooklyn Heights just be a bunch of residential buildings? I’m still sad about losing the pharmacy that was on 72 Henry St.

  • David on Middagh

    Curmudgeon said it. If possible, this should be disallowed. Why do people want to move to quaint, historical Brooklyn Heights after all, if not for such amenities as the quaint one-story movie theater in the 19th Century brick building?

    New condos and real estate agencies: pushing out the businesses that make living here worthwhile.

  • mlo

    We need more residents who can afford to shop at Le Pain Quotdien

  • EHinBH

    It’s falling apart — inside and out. I say knock it down ASAP! But why not build something new and leave the first floor as an independent film theater?

  • Gerry

    @ BronxKid thanks for remembering the disabled here with the cracks in the sidewalks and rude people walking in front of me I have enough trouble getting to a movie on Henry Street I will never see another movie if the Heights Cinema clsed and I am afraid of Court Street after dark!

  • Wrennie

    EHinBH, I imagine no one would want to live on top of a movie theater–it must be pretty loud. I’ve sat in there and felt vibrations from whatever was playing in the other theater.

  • Curmudgeon

    EHinBH – Like the real estate interests, I guess you don’t think much of landmark regulations, which is your right, but the rest of us might just want to preserve the neighborhood. That’s why we live here. Why so eager you to knock down?

    It may time to draw a line in the sand on this one or we are we going to have to fight many more of these battles against the vested real estate interests.

  • kenn lowy

    Yes, I am meeting with all the elected officials. But the owner has the right to knock it down. blog post with more info pending…

    kenn (owner of Brooklyn Heights Cinema)

  • Jorale-man

    Curmudgeon hits the nail on the head. It’s exactly what happened on the Upper West Side: the very shops and amenities people came to the neighborhood to enjoy were priced out. Much of Broadway has become a sterile strip of condos, drug stores and banks.

  • stuart

    are so many people really this unhappy in Brooklyn Heights? Is it just age or what?
    This is a disgusting filthy ugly little crappy cinema.
    What are you dingbats TALKING ABOUT???

  • wrennie

    I’d rather they fix it up a bit instead of putting a condo there.

  • stuart

    Elmer, I’m not Harry Potter.
    I just do not understand the love for this rundown crappy cinema where one can barely make out the dialogue. Let it go. Really, let it go. Don’t be an urban hoarder. Throw it out and move on. There will be a much better and nicer and cleaner new building to take its place and it will be alright. Just take a deep breath.

  • David on Middagh

    I wouldn’t call it “urban hoarding” to maintain a touch of cinematic culture, or not to want to install a taller, windier, sun-blocking building.

  • Pedro

    Stuart why don’t you move to Las Vegas or Houston or somewhere in Florida. Everything is shiny and new there!

  • stuart

    Pedro, it is a false choice to say you either want to live in Las Vegas or love the craptastic Heights Cinema. A little more nuance please.
    I have to admit I stopped going to the Heights Cinema. it would be considered sub-par in Lagos, Angola.

  • Jorale-man

    It’s not just about this one building either. Once developers see they can start skirting the rules of the landmark district, they’ll continue to try it with other buildings.

    Could the cinema use a fresh coat of paint or a few tweaks with the sound system? Perhaps. But I wouldn’t advocate knocking the whole building down and replacing it with a condo.

  • stuart

    hey guys, get a clue. Landmark districts are not frozen in time like a bug in amber. They change.
    Fugly buildings like the cinema can be razed and replaced with nice modern buildings. The landmarks commission puts the architects through their paces to make sure the design is compatible with the surroundings.
    Is the real issue that the apartments will be sold to affluent younger people? Is it about envy? In Brooklyn Heights? Heaven forebid!

  • David on Middagh

    I’ll have to take another look, but I never considered the building ugly.

  • Still here

    Is this movie theater viable? Does it make money? I had friends that ran it for 6 months 10 years ago and they tried everything – good flicks – never raised a following and left. Now I rarely go to the movies and haven’t been there in years. Any of you been there lately? I would miss seeing it, the building.

  • blurb

    Why not tear it down and build a real movie theater? I do get the nostalgia for the outside of the building, but it’s really a pretty bad theater as is – and the market really doesn’t seem to support it. Maybe a renovation and one of those establishments that serves beer and food with your movie? I don’t know – but they’ve got to do something innovative with that place if it’s going to survive.

    I hate Court St. and would welcome a nice theater there. But I think you’d have to build a new structure. Would it really be impossible to do a theater in the first floor of a condo building? Never seen it done, but it can’t be that hard to soundproof.

  • David on Middagh

    People are writing as if the owner of the Cinema weren’t available to answer questions… weren’t reading this thread… hadn’t already contributed…

  • hicks st guy

    @Stuart, are you the guy that was going crazy over the modern sculpture in Cadman Plaza, yet you want a nice clean new modern building? I wish the nitwits in BH would recognize that BHC is the last small art movie theatre in Brooklyn and one of the last in the City. Go to the lousy multi-screen dumps for some mindless films.

  • Bette

    I think there are other residential buildings with cinemas on the first floor. (can’t think of any – but assume they’re out there) Probably more appealing to residents above than restaurant with food odors, and the (admittedly small but real) possibility of a fire. If I had money, I would enjoy living above a (small) cinema. Not that we love Stephen and (who was his wife in those old – gone? – commercials?), but those yuppie-types are the crowd developers are looking for and they would think it was very chic.