Some great news about the Pavilion Theater
The Pavilion Theater at the corner of Prospect Park – previously known as the Sanders, and before that the Marathon Theater – has been a site of first dates, family movies, and waiting in lines for blockbusters for over a century (even as it has deteriorated pretty badly in recent years).
So many of us were distressed last year when we learned that our neighborhood theater might be replaced with – what else? – luxury condos. It symbolized the loss of places that make our community, well, a real community.
So today, I’m happy to pass on some good news: our community’s movie theater will be preserved – and made far better. Nitehawk Cinema (one of the best theater operators in NYC) will convert the entire Pavilion building into a completely renovated 7-screen, 650-seat movie theater (and accompanying restaurant and bar).
This is a victory for community activism and partnership. When we heard about plans to eliminate the theater, we spoke up loud and clear. Together with neighbors, we pushed to save the theater, and make sure any renovation/development respected the historic character of the neighborhood.
The developer, Hidrock Realty, agreed to work with us. Last year, Hidrock committed to keep a theater in the ground floor of the building, as part of their plan (at the time) to convert the upper floors to condos and build a new building next door.
Hidrock then reached out to Nitehawk to explore a partnership – which grew over the past few months into this great new plan to preserve a full-scale movie theater.
You can read more about it in today’s The New York Times.
If you’ve never been to the Nitehawk Williamsburg, you can read more about it here. The one on Prospect Park will be larger – and I’m pleased to report that the owners have committed to make it even more family-friendly. They’ll still have a bar and restaurant, but are planning a wide range of programming to match our neighborhood. (And Hidrock is not planning to build a new residential building next door, at least at this time).
Thanks to Hidrock and Nitehawk for working together to make this possible.
There are, of course, many bigger problems in the world these days – and we will keep working on those, too. But for today, it’s nice to know that by working together, we will keep an important community landmark, and a gathering place for rom-coms, horror flicks, superhero summer smashes, quirky indie-films and of course date-nights for many years to come.
P.S. The Park Slope Civic Council also deserves real credit here, for their tireless efforts to extend the Park Slope Historic District to cover the South Slope in 2012. Without that extension, the theater could have been demolished entirely.
The Civic Council celebrated another hard-earned victory this summer. In July, the City Council voted to extend the Park Slope Historic District further into the North Slope. This move officially adds 292 buildings in North Slope to the Park Slope Historic District – and makes it one of the largest historic districts in NYC.
As New York City grows and changes, we can use smart planning and preservation tools to strengthen and preserve our neighborhoods.
That’s part of what we’re trying to do with “Bridging Gowanus,” our community planning effort for the area around the Gowanus Canal. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look yet, please go to www.bridginggowanus.org, or join us this Thursday night, 6:30 – 8:30 at the “Hall of the Gowanus” (a.k.a. the offices of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy), at 543 Union Street, down the alley on Nevins Street.
Sorry, no popcorn.