Tag Archives: rko keith

RKO Keith’s in Flushing sold for $30M to new developer


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File renderings

The former RKO Keith’s movie house in Flushing has changed hands again.

Developer Patrick Thompson has sold the historic theater site for $30 million to JK Equities, a private real estate company based in New York, a spokesperson for the new developers said.

“The offer was generous, and Patrick decided to sell,” said Michael Nussbaum, a former spokesperson for Thompson, who now represents JK Equities founder Jerry Karlik.

“This project has been a long time coming,” Nussbaum said. “We’re hoping that this group will finally put a shovel in the ground.”

Plans to build a 17-story mixed-use apartment tower at 135-35 Northern Boulevard remain the same, Nussbaum said.

The 400,000-square-foot project site still includes 357 rental apartments, 360 parking spaces, stores and a community center.

JK Equities has also committed to restoring RKO Keith’s landmarked lobby.

“The only thing that’s being changed is the ownership,” Nussbaum said. “This will be the tallest building in Flushing when it is completed. That building will just jump right out and give Flushing an incredible landscape.”

The project to transform the long vacant and deteriorated building has been in the works for 25 years.

This is the third title change since 2002, when notorious developer Thomas Huang sold the building he heavily damaged to real estate investor Shaya Boymelgreen.

Boymelgreen later failed to make mortgage payments, allowing Thompson to buy the foreclosed property from the bank for $20 million in 2010.

The theater opened in 1928. Witnessing the end of vaudeville, it closed in 1986.

It is unclear when work will begin, Nussbaum said.

 File photo

 

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RKO Keith’s to rise: FAA approval means 17-story development will fly


| mchan@queenscourier.com

122107_RKO_cam_1_Final

While the curtain has long come down on a historic former movie house in Flushing, recent approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has green lighted RKO Keith’s Theatre for Act 2.

The proposed 17-story development will be built approximately 7,000 feet from the runway at LaGuardia Airport, which raised concerns in the past as to whether its height would pose a hazard to airline traffic.

Property owner and developer Patrick Thompson had to resubmit his proposal to the FAA after a previous approval expired. The site’s last owner, Shaya Boymelgreen, received FAA clearance for the same proposal submitted in 2003, said Thompson’s spokesperson Michael Nussbaum, who added that plans for the tower’s height have not changed for the past six years.

An “unofficial preliminary determination” made by the FAA in January said the building would not disrupt flight patterns, but one day before the end of the allotted public hearing time frame, a Virginia resident, Christian Kellberg, filed objections against the $160 million project, Nussbaum said.

The federal agency overruled the petitions late last week, giving Thompson the go-ahead to proceed with his plans to preserve RKO’s landmark lobby and build 357 rental apartments, stores and a community center around it.

“I am now free to finalize and complete the financing with the current partners and banks and will begin constructing in the very near future,” Thompson said in a statement.
In March, Nussbaum said Thompson garnered additional support of “interested parties,” but he said developers were still not ready to identify the new financial backers.

The project’s start date was set back by the single detractor, but Nussbaum said the team will have a better idea of when construction will begin and end in a few weeks. He said the total construction period will still take approximately two and a half years.

The developers, Nussbaum said, are currently conducting a review with the design team. He said they will soon apply for a demolition license at the same time they erect a steel shell to encase and protect the landmark lobby during construction.

Flushing Chamber of Commerce set to close


| smosco@queenscourier.com

After 80 years of service to the business community, the Flushing Chamber of Commerce and Business Association (FCCBA) announced it would cease all activities and dissolve.

The association’s co-president, Myra Baird Herce, said that the decision was a long time coming as many new business organizations in the downtown Flushing area have emerged in recent years.

“It isn’t like the commercial strip doesn’t have representation in the area, because they do,” said Herce. “It’s the end of an era for this group, but it was time to move on.”

Since 1932, the Chamber has participated in many major projects affecting Flushing, including the restoration of RKO Keith’s on Main Street, the re-purposing of Municipal Parking Lot No. 1, as well as the development of Willets Point. Herce believes that area is very well represented and she is hopeful that these projects will eventually materialize.

Other business organizations in the area include the Flushing Business Improvement District, Korean American Small Business Service Center of New York, Flushing Chinese Business Association, Taiwan Merchants Association, One Flushing and the Flushing Development Center.

Herce sees the plethora of Flushing business advocates as a major asset to the community and she is positive a bright future waits for the area. She called Flushing a “boom town with a rich entrepreneurial spirit,” and she is positive it will thrive.

Before joining the FCCBA more than 20 years ago, Herce was the director of the Downtown Flushing Development Corporation, which encouraged businesses to come to Flushing and set up shop.

After a number of years serving as co-president with Richard Gelman, who moved out of state, and Jack Hogan, who passed away, Herce became the lone voice of the Chamber. And while she relished the opportunity to represent businesses, a point came when she knew it was time to move on.

“We are not unhappy,” she said. “We’ve seen Flushing grow and we know it is still growing.”

While she is proud of what the Chamber was able to accomplish during its run, she said that the system’s slow nature sometimes hampered progress. However, she thinks projects like Willets Point will eventually come to a completion because the power of jobs is too much to deny.

“The developments coming down the road are major opportunities for Flushing,” she said. “We need to get the shovel in the ground and get going. It’s time to shake the money tree.”