NEW YORK— Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz broke ground on the restoration of the historic Loew’s Kings Theatre in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Originally constructed in 1929, the 3,200-seat Loew’s Kings Theatre is the largest indoor theater in Brooklyn. Its design was heavily influenced by the Palace of Versailles and Paris Opera House, and features ornate architectural details in the French Renaissance Style. In 1977, the theatre closed and has remained vacant since, suffering decades of neglect and deterioration.
The groundbreaking represents the culmination of the city’s efforts to revitalize the theatre. Following preliminary work untaken by ACE Theatrical over the last three years, New York City has executed a 55-year lease with the Kings Theatre Redevelopment Corp.--a consortium of ACE Theatrical, Goldman Sachs and the National Development Council--to begin the full redevelopment and rehabilitation of the theatre.
The project was financed through funding from the City, Marty Markowitz, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and United Fund Advisors. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by Borough President Markowitz, New York City Economic Development Corp. President Seth W. Pinsky and Council Member Mathieu Eugene.
“Once the largest and grandest indoor venue in Brooklyn, Loew’s Kings Theatre was a major attraction for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and countless visitors,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Soon it will be again. This massive restoration project will be great for the Flatbush community, for Brooklyn’s booming cultural scene, for local artists and cultural groups, and for New York City.”
Originally designed by the renowned firm of Rapp & Rapp, Loew’s Kings Theatre, located at 1027 Flatbush Avenue, opened in 1929 as one of Loew’s five Wonder Theatres. Its French Renaissance style architecture was inspired by the Palace of Versailles and the Paris Opera House and features high, curved ceilings, ornate plaster walls, wood paneling, pink marble, and a glazed terra-cotta ornamental façade – elements that once made it a classic, early 20th century movie palace.
Vacant since 1977, the theater has fallen into substantial disrepair. Since the city acquired the property in 1983, the city has repaired the roof and worked to repair the structure. In order to revitalize the space, NYCEDC, in cooperation with Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz, issued a Request for Proposals in 2008 for a developer to lead the full rehabilitation and operate the venue going forward. ACE Theatrical Group, LLC of Houston was selected in 2009 due to their specialization in historic restoration and theater operation. ACE’s many projects include the Boston Opera House, the Chicago Theatre and the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC. ACE works with local organizations to include them in theater activities, and works across all entertainment genres that will serve all aspects of the community.
Over the last year, the Bloomberg Administration and Borough President Markowitz have worked to finalize the terms of the project to allow full construction to begin. The agreement announced today enables construction on the project to begin this month. The $93.9 million project is estimated to create more than 500 construction jobs and 50 permanent jobs. In addition, each performance will create additional temporary jobs for theatrical freelancers. As part of the project, the theatre will be expanded from its original approximately 68,000-sq.-ft. space to approximately 93,000-sq.-ft. to enable it to be used as a live performance venue, with a suitable backstage area not originally part of the movie theatre. Once renovations are complete in late 2014 the theatre is expected to host between 200 and 250 performances a year.