With many historic buildings throughout the city, it comes as no surprise that developers are looking for ways to take these buildings and convert them into residential space or commercial establishments. Among these are the former Childs Restaurant and RKO Keith’s Theater.
Childs Restaurant Reopens Following Renovations
Coney Island’s former Childs Restaurant has finally reopened following years of rehabilitation. The 94-year-old landmark building will now serve as a dining room companion for the neighboring Ford Amphitheater. Called Kitchen 21, the venue offers five different dining and drinking concepts. These include the rooftop wine bar called Boardwalk & Vine, a fine-dining concept restaurant called Test Kitchen, a gastropub called Parachute Bar and others called The Café and the Community Clam Bar.
Located on West 21st Street along the Riegelmann Boardwalk and constructed in 1923, the historic building was designed by Dennison & Hirons. The restaurant closed in the 1950s, only to be replaced by a candy manufacturer that remained there until the 1980s. It then sat in various states of decay until the city decided to rehabilitate the property.
In addition to this project, the city is also looking for other ways to improve Coney Island’s economy. To that end, it has issued a request for proposals to develop 150,000 square feet of space along the boardwalk in the area between Surf Avenue and West 16th Street and West 10th Street.
Flushing’s RKO Theater to Receive New Exterior
The landmarked RKO Keith’s Theater will soon be getting a whole new look, as the Landmarks Preservation Commission has approved a proposal by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners to subsume the building’s interiors in a new building. Built in 1928, the interior of the building has partial landmark status with its grand foyer and ticket lobby receiving the designation. Developer Xinyan Real Estate has proposed rehabilitating and preserving the interior of the long-shuttered building while enclosing it in a new glassy 16-floor building with 269 apartments. The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the proposal on the first go-around.
According to the architectural drawings, which were created by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners along with preservation architectural firm Ayon Studios, the ticket lobby and grand foyer will serve as the entry for the residential building. A mail room, residential lobby and elevator bank will also be added in the area beyond the landmarked interiors. The original theater, which could seat up to 3,000 and was not granted landmark status, will be razed while a new sophisticated robot parking system will be put into place. Some of the existing plasterwork will also be removed and replaced, while other parts will be salvaged and restored off site.
The redevelopment of the historic building has a long and bumpy past. In the late 1980s, former owner Thomas Huang illegally demolished some of the interior after it received landmark designation. This resulted in felony charges and the theater being placed back on the market. Shaya Boymelgreen then bought the property in 2002 for $15 million with plans to build condos, but later sold it for $20 million to Patrick Thompson in 2010. JK Equities then purchased it for $30 million in 2013 before selling it to Xinyuan for more than twice what they paid for it.