Brooklyn Heights Cinema At 70 Henry Street To Be Razed, After All

After a push & pull tug of war throughout 2012, it appears the beloved Brooklyn Heights Cinema building at 70 Henry Street is about to meet the wrecking ball, after all. But there’s hope: Plans call for a movie theater on the ground level of the new structure to be built on the site.

BHB Top 10 2011 honoree and Cinema owner Kenn Lowy—who wrote this guest post in January—said then that his lease runs until June 30. According to a Brownstoner post today, a new five-story rental will indeed replace the current building, which will result in shuttering of the theater in August.

SEE KEN LOWY’S COMMENT ON THIS POST AFTER THE JUMP…

On Wednesday, architects Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel presented plans to the CB2 Landuse Committee for a five-story, 17-unit building with a movie theater on the first floor and in a section of the basement. There will also be additional commercial space along Henry Street.

Brownstoner says that architect Randolph Gerner addressed preservationists’ concerns that the building is “an integral part of the Brooklyn Heights Landmark District and should not be demolished,” but refuted that the lot originally housed a five-story tenement with a one-story attached building for the proprietor of the site.

Gerner said a commissioned historical report of 70 Henry deemed that the one-story building—now the theater—underwent enough change so that it “no longer retains its historical significance,” according to Brownstoner. He added at the hearing, “We’re borrowing from historic materials in a modern fashion.”

The proposal involves a brick facade and massive steel windows reminiscent of the nearby new 20 Henry Street condo addition, sans balconies. The committee approved the design and, says Brownstoner, “seemed pleased that the movie theater would be retained.”

KENN LOWY WEIGHED IN WITH THE FOLLOWING COMMENT BELOW:

We’ll find a temporary location close by and yes, we will be back. I will be signing a legal document guaranteeing I’ll be back. As long as we have a temporary location and keep it going, coming back will be easy. And we will still have music and silent films at the temporary space. Also, we’ll be at the current location until at least the end of August.

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  • DrewB

    I guess this means the theater will be closed for a long time during construction, but it will be nice to have a nice, new, clean space and maybe walls that actually provide some sound protection between the theaters. Here’s hoping the programming retains it’s indie-centric focus.

  • Bongo

    Yeah, right. I’ll believe it when it happens. It’s audience-participation theater on Bourt, or Cobble Hill for us all now. Has any done movie and beer at Re-Bar?

  • Bongo

    oops. Bourt = Court on “B for C, Thurdays”

  • David on Middagh

    Congo, how bynical!

  • kenn lowy

    We’ll find a temporary location close by and yes we will be back. I will be signing a legal document guarantying I’ll be back. As long as we have a temporary location and keep it going, coming back will be easy. And we will still have music and silent films at the temporary space.

    Aso, we’ll be at the current location until at least the end of August.

  • AEB

    Excellent, Kenn, thanks. The worry–for me, at least–was that the new theater would have less idiosyncratic programming than the BH Cineama now has

    Seems to me that, even in a Youtube world, cult films and other classics would draw an appreciative audience–might in fact be the best bet, as anyone can see the latest Hollywood releases anywhere.

    But a series devoted to movie musicals, for example, old and older–that would be just the ticket.

  • Jorale-man

    That’s encouraging that plans are being put into place now to bring the theater back in the new building. I think a good model would be something akin to the Sunshine Cinemas on the LES. It has a modern interior but it doesn’t feel like a corporate multiplex (a la the horrible Court Street theaters).

  • BH’er

    obama gave me hope and all i have left is pocket change

    pardon the cynism, but i’ll believe it when i see it

  • She’s Crafty

    I’m sad about this because I really like the way the block is laid out currently, but I’m happy there will still be a theatre there. I saw many, many movies there growing up and had my first drunken kiss in that theatre NY eve 1982, then threw up on the stairs up to the bathroom, so I will never, ever forget the Brooklyn Heights Cinema.

  • travy

    i call bs.. not gonna happen.. are we really to believe a developer is going to build a cinema into a rental project where the profit margins are razor thin to begin with? how high will the ceilings be? how thick will the walls be? theaters are more expensive to build than basements.

    and what legal remedies can there be that ‘guarantee’ its return? the lease is up. the building is coming down? am i missing something here?

  • Curmudgeon

    I saw the picture of the proposed building in Brownstoner and it looks pretty “ho-hum” certainly nothing special. Doesn’t “fit” there at all. More importantly, it appears to OVERWHELM the corner of Orange and Henry.

    Also, just what we need – some more empty stores on Henry Street! And, why a rental?

    Now that this precedent has been set (Has the Landmarks Commission agreed to this?) there is no reason now that developers won’t “cherry pick” other heights locations in the Historic District for a similar building that “no longer retains its historical significance” so they can raze and build. What’s the point of Historic District preservation now?

  • Kenn lowy

    travy: I understand the cynicism but the plans have the cinema there! That is what is being approved. Once the agreement has been signed, that is what will be there. It’s pretty straight forward.

  • Barry

    Everyone should know that a new theater at this location requires a BSA Special Permit. This costs time and money. They just cant put the theater back. A simple retail space in the new building would not be subject to this process. Is the developer planning to seek the Special Permit?

  • Kenn lowy

    As I already wrote, there will be a cinema there. Anything that needs to be done will be done.

  • travy

    ken- i’m a fan of the brooklyn heights cinema but bait and switch developers are a sore subject around here. there was a frank gehry designed arena in the plans for atlantic yards too. good luck

  • Andrew Porter

    As I posted previously, the space at 101 Clark Street which is currently being used by the Heights Casino was originally designed and built as a movie theatre. If only….

  • Kenn lowy

    Does anyone have a contact at 101 Clark Street?

  • http://bob@bobrowen.com Bob R.

    Cadman towers mgt. = 718-522-1900

  • Kenn lowy

    101 Clark Street: I just spoke with them and they seem to know nothing about this. Anyone else have any info?