Fate Of Cinema In Limbo, Landmarks Doesn’t Vote On 70 Henry Street Plan

The Landmarks Preservation Commission decided this week not to vote on plans to build condos on top of the Brooklyn Heights Cinema building at 70 Henry Street. In the proposal, the cinema would still occupy the first floor but with only one screen instead of the current two.

Brooklyn Eagle: “We haven’t quite found the formula yet,” said LPC Chairman Robert Tierney. The chairman suggested the project architect work with LPC staff on the design. Architect Randy Gerner of Park Avenue South firm Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel offered up a new design for the proposed 70 Henry St. project at a public hearing at the preservation agency’s Lower Manhattan Municipal Building offices.

The designer said the existing building should be demolished and its bricks turned backwards to expose their red side. The salvaged bricks would be used to build the ground level, where the cinema goes. There would be residential floors with floor-to-ceiling windows framed by ribbons of ductile concrete screens that are deep reddish brownstone color.

Building owner Tom Caruana’s family has owned the building since 1968, the Brooklyn Eagle reports.

On a related note, BHC owner Kenn Lowy asked the community for support in the theater’s weekly newsletter:

Here’s our dilemma. We must have digital projection in one of our rooms in the next 6 weeks. Ideally we would have a kickstarter campaign. But buying a digital projector right now makes no sense because we don’t know how long we’ll be at this location (we know we’ll be here for the rest of this year, possibly a little longer). Our only option is to lease a projector. But we cannot afford to do that unless business picks up in the next few weeks.

Here’s where you, our loyal customers can help – See our movies, visit the concession and buy a t-shirt.

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  • Eddyde

    One film has been playing at the HC for almost two months.

  • MonroeOrange

    Ken sell the t-shirts on this blog..that might help raise some extra money

  • Cranberry Beret

    If they’re just going to demolish, why bother re-using the old bricks? That’s the worst kind of fake historicism.

  • David on Middagh

    …maybe the old bricks will smell like popcorn.

  • stuart

    they just approved a new 130-story condo that will project over the roof of the Arts Students League on 57th Street but they can’t wrap their minds around a four story building in the Heights. So ridiculous.

  • Kenn Lowy

    When we play a movie for more than 4 weeks it means it’s doing very well. I understand how frustrating it is to our regular customers, but understand that there aren’t enough movie goers in Brooklyn Heights to keep us in business (it’s a pretty small neighborhood). We need people from other areas to help us stay in business. We have the new Redford movie this week, and 12 Years a Slave next week.

  • Kenn Lowy

    Thanks. Great idea.

  • Cranberry Beret

    It’s not the new building they can’t wrap their minds around, it’s why he needs to demolish the old one.

  • Heights Observer

    The real estate developers want to set new policy – that is, they want to be able to “cherry- pick” certain buildings in historic districts for demolition so that they can seize the land and build high price condos. I would think that this is fairly obvious. That is why this building is going to be razed and there will be many more if the LPC approves this deal.

  • ellymay878

    I think that there are more movie choices and variety since new management took over. However, theatre looks a little shabby. When/if theatre is renovated/cleaned up more customers will come.

  • Remsen St

    Ken, you are the best and your theater is a neighborhood treasure that I know many of us have an incredible fear of losing. Have you converted to a non profit yet and can you take donations/memberships? How much is the equipment lease? Is uncertainty on your term preventing you from getting any movies or otherwise hindering the business and do you have any news on prospective spaces? Thanks for everything you do for bh!

  • Kenn Lowy

    Thanks. We’ve gone through the 1st phase of the NFP approval and are now into the 2nd part. I expect that to be approved in the next month or two. So far there have been only two films we couldn’t get because we don’t have digital projection. We’re waiting for a price to lease digital projection. Probably a few thousand a month. Regarding a temporarily space, there are a few possibilities that I’ve looked at. But we’re in limbo regarding when we would need to move. That makes the entire situation more difficult.

  • Kenn Lowy

    I wanted to renovate two years ago, but the lease expired a year ago. So it seemed like a bad idea to spend the money to renovate something when we had no idea how much longer we’d be at this space. Unfortunately, we’re in the same position now. I wanted to change the sofa’s when I bought it 2 1/2 years ago.