Sunnyside movie theater in danger of being demolished
By Christian Murray
The commercial building that is presently occupied by Center Cinemas, PJ Horgan’s and Dime Savings Bank is likely to face the wrecking ball, following a recent sale of the property.
The property, located on the corner of Queens Blvd and 43rd street was sold by Dime Savings Bank for $6.675 million on Dec. 20 to “42-25 Queens Blvd. Corporation,” a newly established firm run out of Astoria.
Michael Christopher, a representative of 42-25 Queens Blvd Corp., said “We have no plans at this point for the property” and have “not decided what to do with it.”
However, local real estate agents expect the new owner to develop the site and build residential units. The annual operating income from the property is $326,000, barely enough to cover the debt servicing on the property.
Furthermore, given the size of the lot (16,300sqf) and the recent up-zoning, a developer can build a structure with a maximum floor area of 68,424sqf. The current building only has a floor area of 16,080 sqf.
The owner of Center Cinemas, Rudy Prashad, said he put a $5.2 million bid on the property. His goal was to keep the existing building so the future of the cinema would not be in jeopardy.
“It’s a neighborhood theater and I wanted to keep it,” Prashad said. “It’s a place where working families can take their kids to the movies and not spend too much.”
Prashad said he had recently spent $600,000 putting in new screens, a sound system and digital equipment.
Prashad said he was disappointed with Dime Bank since he was in lease negotiations with them for nearly two years prior to the sale. He said the negotiations went back and forth as there was a dispute over flooding and water damage that caused big problems in the theater’s downstairs bathrooms.
He said he then learned that Dime was selling the property through an article on the Sunnyside Post.
The Sunnyside Dime branch, which operates out of that building, is scheduled to close this summer. A letter was sent out to its customers last week saying that their accounts would automatically be transferred to its other branch at 45-14 46th Street.
The cinema’s lease ends December 2014. Meanwhile, PJ Horgan’s lease ends June 30, 2018. Horgan’s has been operating at this location for nearly forty years.
There is also a dentist’s office in the building. Its lease ends Oct. 31, 2014–although there is a provision to extend it.