Park Slope

Landmarks Preservation Commission okays ‘Nitehawk’ marquee sign for former Pavilion Theater

Park Slope movie-house makeover moves forward

February 20, 2018 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Here's a glimpse of Park Slope's former Pavilion Theater, which is being turned into the Nitehawk Prospect Park. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

The Nitehawk is coming to Park Slope.

Its name will glow in red neon lights on a marquee on Prospect Park West.

On Tuesday, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved a name change on the marquee of the Pavilion Theater to reflect the shuttered movie house’s makeover into the Nitehawk Prospect Park.

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The LPC’s vote took place after a public hearing at the preservation agency’s Lower Manhattan headquarters.

The neo-Renaissance-style theater at 188 Prospect Park West, which opened in 1928, is being transformed into a second Nitehawk Cinema. The original Nitehawk is in Williamsburg.

At the Williamsburg theater, which was founded by Matthew Viragh and opened in 2011, movie-goers have booze, meals and snacks served to them on tiny tables beside their seats. The programming is an eclectic mix of first-run and repertory films.  

Viragh told The New York Times in September 2016 that Nitehawk’s theater in Park Slope will have 650 seats, seven screens and two bars and its atrium will be restored.



‘Iconic corner of Brooklyn’ will be preserved

According to the theater’s website, Nitehawk Prospect Park will have the “same dine-in concept” as the Williamsburg theater. And the Park Slope theater’s programming will be similar to that of Williamsburg’s Nitehawk — with the addition of family-friendly films  and “quality Hollywood blockbuster first-run films,” the website says.      

The renovation of the old Pavilion’s interior has been underway since late 2016. Because the building is located in the Park Slope Historic District Extension, changes to its exterior must be approved by the LPC.

On Tuesday, the commission also approved other tweaks to 188 Prospect Park West’s exterior. For instance, new frames for movie posters can be installed on the front of the building.

Think Architecture and Design is the architect for the Nitehawk Prospect Park project.

In testimony during the public hearing, Kelly Carroll of the Historic Districts Council applauded Nitehawk’s exterior-renovation plan and its aim of “preserving this iconic corner of Brooklyn and the entrance to Prospect Park in its built form without expanding and mutating the architecture.”

She thanked Nitehawk “for proving that occupying a landmark building does not have to mean the building has to go away or be altered in a terrible way.”

Pavilion’s previous owner made condo-conversion plans

The theater was designed by Harrison G. Wiseman and Magnuson & Kleinert Associates. It was called the Sanders when it opened.

Nitehawk has a long-term lease on the old Pavilion space from the property’s new owner, 188 Prospect Park West LLC, Nitehawk’s website says.

According to city Finance Department records, 188 Prospect Park West LLC bought the property for  $28 million in 2016.

Matthew S. Viragh signed a mortgage that 188 Prospect Park West LLC obtained when it bought the property. The mortgage, which can be found in Finance Department records, identifies him as a manager of 188 Prospect Park West LLC.

The seller of the Pavilion was Hidrock Realty, which had planned to incorporate the Pavilion into a condo development and include a small movie theater inside the landmarked building.

The plan, which generated opposition from neighborhood residents, also included the replacement of the vacant restaurant next door to the Pavilion with a six-story building.

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