70 Henry St. (Former Home to Brooklyn Heights Cinemas) Construction Update

Construction at 70 Henry St., former home to our beloved Brooklyn Heights Cinemas, is coming along nicely. Here’s a peek into the guts of the plot of land that is soon to be the site of a five-story, mixed-use development.


This morning, the congenial site supervisor named Mike from Jonico Construction, was keeping watch over the work. The target date for completion is 15 months from now, Mike said. In the photo above, you can see the columns, “probably there since before Lincoln was assassinated,” that are being preserved per Landmarks Preservation Committee’s insistence. The building will house five condo units, including one maisonette townhouse on the Orange St. side. The smallest condo unit will be 1,200 sq. ft. with four bedrooms. On the ground floor facing Henry St. will be a 1,000 sq. ft. commercial space.

What’s going in that commercial space? Let’s dispel the lingering rumor here for good. It won’t be a movie theater. According to Mike, it will be a retail space, but not a restaurant, since the space is not mechanically fit for one. When asked if he’s heard any leads on what types of businesses are interested, Mike said he hadn’t heard. But he figured the neighborhood could use a women’s and/or children’s retail shop of some kind. He’s a smart one, that Mike, we did just lose Heights Kids afterall.

While the neighborhood awaits the completion of this building, let’s have one last nostalgic look at what was once there.


From Google Maps 2009

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  • klowy

    Fans of the cinema should understand that the only way we could have continued in that space was if the previous owner had gotten approval from landmarks. But the BHA fought his plan(s) because they felt it would not preserve the brick wall on Orange Street (even though the second plan did preserve most of it). Preserving a wall that no one seems to care about, and believe me, I asked our customers, is more important to the BHA than having a cinema.

    The new owner is good guy. We did speak briefly about the commercial space, but we both agreed that there was no way our little cinema could afford to pay market rate rents. The previous owner was willing to give us a huge break on the rent because he had a vested interest in the cinema.

    Considering the current real estate boom in Brooklyn, finding a new, affordable space was impossible. In fact, several of the spaces I looked at several years ago are still vacant. I’m really sorry I wasn’t able to keep it going. I know our neighbors miss it, and I do as well (as well as all of the people who worked at the cinema).

    Kenn Lowy (last owner of the Brooklyn heights Cinema)

  • Cranberry Beret

    I miss the cinema very much. But with all respect to Kenn, your narrative of its demise doesn’t match reality.

    Your view that the original building owner had a “vested interest in the cinema” is belied by the fact that none of the proposed plans were designed to house a movie theater. I saw them, they were on file at the LPC office. The original owner’s plan SHOWED a theater to play on sympathy for the existing cinema, but it was an exhibition room crammed into an area that was obviously designed to be retail. It had a flat floor! If your cinema couldn’t afford to pay a market rent even in the existing building (which was no one’s idea of a movie palace), how on earth would a cinema succeed in a space that wasn’t even set up properly for a theater?

    If the original owner really wanted a cinema, he had a simple solution: simply leave the building alone as it was.

    I agree that there’s a serious real estate affordabilty problem in this city, for residential and commercial alike. But the solution isn’t to knock down everything and just build newer, taller, bigger. The new owner of the lot managed to preserve the historic exterior. Why didn’t the original owner try that approach? If he really cared about preserving the cinema and not maxing out his real estate value, maybe he would have.

  • Frank

    RIP BHC… Wow I remember watching a dozen movies at this theatre in the 90s… Before the big commercial theatre opened on court street.. I was a student residing at the St. George down the block… BHC was small, intimate… Basically your neighborhood theatre.

    I now live in Manhattan but I if I ever moved… It will be right back in Brooklyn heights.. Incredible neighborhood.. Love it!


  • Andrew Porter

    And when I moved to BH, that space housed a hardware store.

  • klowy

    Cranberry: your are flat out wrong. The very first plan did not have a cinema. But the neighborhood was very vocal about how that was a mistake. Tom (the former owner) immediately changed his mind. I called him days later and asked him to reconsider. His answer was “We have a new plan with the cinema in it, come over and have a look”. That was the plan that went to landmarks. The second time he went, we were also in the plan. In fact, his architect worked with me to make sure it was a good plan. It did not have a flat floor, it was racked in the same way the original theater was. Sorry, you are just wrong about this.

  • StudioBrooklyn