Brooklyn Heights

Buyers of Brooklyn Heights Cinema building going for condos

Landmarks Preservation Commission said no — twice — to previous residential construction plans

November 20, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Heights Cinema. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese
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What will the Landmarks Preservation Commission think of this design?

The buyers of the former Brooklyn Heights Cinema building, 70 Henry St., plan to build condos after the city preservation agency said no — twice — to the previous owner’s residential construction plans.

JMH Development and Madison Estates announced Thursday that they paid $7.5 million for the building that housed the now-shuttered cinema for 44 years.

That was the asking price for the building, which went onto the sale market last winter.

“This project will work to both enhance the dynamic neighborhood with unique architecture while filling the historic district’s inherent demand for new construction,” Jason Halpern, the founder of Williamsburg-based JMH, said in a statement.

The purchasers said Morris Adjmi will be their architect for what they’re calling “a luxury boutique condominium development.”

Preservationists and neighborhood residents have been waiting to learn 70 Henry’s fate since August, when it came to light that 70 Henry was under sale contract. The now-closed movie house is situated in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. The neighborhood has the distinction of being the very first in New York City to win protected status as a historic district, back in 1965.

The seller was Tom Caruana, whose grandfather Giuseppe Zevola’s company Ridgeton Poultry had purchased the building in 1968. Caruana had tried unsuccessfully to win Landmarks Preservation Commission approval for a low-rise apartment building with space for the movie theater in it.

Caruana put the building up for sale after the preservation agency shot down architecture firm Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel’s apartments-plus-cinema designs on two different occasions.

Kenn Lowy, operator of the two-screen movie house, shut it down in late August. He is looking for a new location for the theater.

The purchasers of 70 Henry St. also worked with Adjmi as their architect for a sold-out development in the Cobble Hill Historic District. That project at 110-126 Congress St., which is called The Townhouses of Cobble Hill, combines an existing building with new construction.

“Following the swift sales of The Townhouses of Cobble Hill, we are eager to move forward with Madison Estates to bring another successful venture to one of Brooklyn’s premier neighborhoods,” Halpern said.

JMH’s other projects include a warehouse converted to rental apartments at 184 Kent Ave. in Williamsburg and a Starwood Hotel in Miami’s South Beach.

Madison Estates is headed by Gerard Longo, who has developed or done consulting for more than 60 mid-rise New York City developments.

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