You are reading

Landlord of Shuttered Sunnyside Cinema Gets a Tough Message

The marquee sign at a shuttered Sunnyside movie theater was altered over the weekend (Queens Post)

Jan. 31, 2021 By Christian Murray (Updated)

The marquee sign at a shuttered Sunnyside movie theater was altered over the weekend with the perpetrator taking aim at the landlord.

“Death by Speculation, Starring Limpdick Landlord,” the sign reads, which appears to have gone up in the past 24 hours.

The vacant cinema, located at 42-17 Queens Blvd., closed in January 2015 after its operator Rudy Prashad was unable to renew the lease.

The landlord, John Ciafone, who bought the property off Dime Savings Bank at the end of 2012, decided that he wanted to develop the property.

Ciafone, who still owns the building, was subject to heavy criticism at the time since a theater had been located at the Queens Boulevard site for more than 40 years.

Prashad, who had operated the theater for nine years and fought to keep the theater open, broke into laughter Sunday when he saw a photo of the altered signage.

“I love it. I’m saving it to my phone and using it as a screensaver,” Prashad said.

“I want to shake his hand,” he said of the perpetrator. “I want to take him out to dinner.”

But Ciafone did not find it amusing and found the episode to be “mind-boggling.”

“I think it was inappropriate and insensitive,” Ciafone said, who added that he has video of the perpetrators and has reported it to the Queens District Attorney’s office.

“I take this seriously and I am going to prosecute. I view it as a threat and don’t understand who would be sick enough to do this.”

The closure of Prashad’s theater was controversial. Residents put together a petition and held a rally outside the theater in support.

Ciafone offered a six month lease extension but Prashad rejected it arguing he needed a long-term commitment.

The property was also occupied by PJ Horgan’s Pub and a local dentist at the time of purchase. The operators of both were informed their lease would not be renewed and have shut since.

Ciafone announced plans at the time to build a 5 to 7 story building with about 60-70 apartments—with about 20 percent of those units being affordable.

But approximately six years after he announced his plans, the storefronts remain vacant and the property is undeveloped. The site, which also includes the shuttered Dime branch, is used for filming movies.

Ciafone was perplexed as to why he was being targeted at this time. He said that he still plans on developing the site and intends to improve the community.

Prashad, who operates a theater in Kew Gardens and four on Long Island, said he would come back to Sunnyside if given the opportunity.

“I’m so sad that it closed. It was a loss to the community.”

email the author: [email protected]

40 Comments

Click for Comments 
fjlksf

“Ciafone was perplexed as to why he was being targeted at this time.” Landlords always seem to be confused when people hate them.

Reply
Victor

Yes, I’m sure the DA will get right on that and prosecute a case of misdemeanor vandalism that might possibly result in a year’s probation for some prankster.

Reply
Marxist Bull

This is such a great film and has a really positive message, but you really have to see it like this to get the full effect. I wish it was showing in more neighborhoods.

Reply
Denis

This is all hilarious,this will be demolished and become another building full of trust fund babies spouting their marxist bull at the cafe.

333
12
Reply
Rob Loring

is the owner named in the story an attorney? I see ads for an attorney named “John Ciafone” in Brooklyn and Queens, and he may have also run for NY Civil Court judge in 2020 . . .

Reply
Margaret Flanagan

Forcing beloved community businesses.to close, and leaving an important boulevard corner empty for 6 years, is justified by about a dozen affordable apartments that won’t be available for several years more? Not to me.

12
Reply
michelle borges

I am a resident in Sunnyside and the filming crews, cast and equipment along with catering trucks take the only available parking spots away for days at a time and leaving us always inconvenienced due to issues already of lack of parking in the area.
there has been use of fake dollar bills in establishments in the area ( studio cash) which has not been mentioned.

20
6
Reply
Gimme a Break

Ciafone is either lacking in any self-awareness or pretending to be surprised. Either one is unforgivable.

30
2
Reply
jo

I would love to see this as an all ages music venue – kids need to rock out, to dance, and be free to have a good time somewhere safe.

13
15
Reply
Sunnysider

What was the point of not renewing these businesses leases? Clearly the landlord had no solid plan for this site, only pipe dreams. It’s been vacant for far too long. Maybe this property is being used as a tax write-off. It’s sad. Maybe good for the landlord but sad for Sunnyside. I’d love to see the Center Cinema and the real PJ Horgan’s reopen.

44
2
Reply
Appaulse - The truth hurts, Love the sign

Ciafone should be ashamed. Screw Him, He has Screwed the neighbor for years.
I love the sign. GREEDY landlords are the downfall of this city.

52
5
Reply
LIC and fed up.

Now ask yourself has Jimmy Van Brameertaken any canpaign donations from JOHN CIAFONE and his companies over the years. Disclosed JVB disclose!!

23
13
Reply
Annab

He actually hasn’t – political donations are on opensecrets – you can look for yourself.

14
2
Reply
Maria Smith

I have been in the area for 20 years and missing that kind of internamente very much it was very good for the community of Sunnyside I want this movie theater come back , Prashad should work hard to bring the theater back I will very happy for it .

24
2
Reply
Ty

Seriously? He’s upset that people are still upset that we lost two treasures to the Sunnyside community and it’s now just a sad eyesore on the boulevard?
As the person that lead the charge to rally support in the community for the theatre and help make sure the community was aware of who he was when he was attempting to run for a judges seat…I think the marquee looks marvelous!
100% on Rotten Tomatoes 🍅

46
2
Reply
Nunya

What’s actually sick us the vacant eyesore Ciafone owns. it’s just slimey to buy the property and let it sit vacant for years.

47
2
Reply
Bertha

Since its empty why do they not turn it into a vaccination site, food bank or homeless shelter? I hope jimmy van Bramer is reading this. It may help him get more votes for QB president.

15
20
Reply
Xicu

Questions unanswered:
– Has he applied for any permits for his plans? Where’s evidence he’s actively trying to develop the property?
– Do his failed campaign finance records – he ran for Civil Court judge – include costs of plastering his campaign signs using the empty bank’s windows?
– Sure he can do what he wants with his property, but other than helping the TV and film industry, how have his actions in 2012 helped improve the community?

31
1
Reply
Bring back the theater

The closing of this theater was very sad and unfortunate
The landlord has a thin skin
I have very good memories of theater and now it is another empty space

31
2
Reply
Jim dillon

In general I’ve found ciafone to be a good community activist. Time to get this property developed. Why can’t he put a movie theater on the first floor.

7
18
Reply
Trump Is a Traitor.

Ciafone’s feelings are hurt by the results of his own harmful actions? Is this what they mean by “snowflake?”

28
5
Reply
Trump Is a Traitor.

Of course it’s political. A rich jerk speculating and leaving empty storefronts so he can fill his pockets affects our neighborhood.

Also, Trump is traitor.

Reply
Juan

Nobody wants to live in a luxury building so close to the trains coming every 2 minutes. Too many residential places being built. NYC is so over. Hipsters and yuppies moving to the burbs.

3
2
Reply
Robert Mandelbaum

I wish it would resume being a movie theater but as I remember it wasn’t very pleasant inside.

16
2
Reply
Weasel

We need the cinema back we don’t need more condos it would also bring back the pub in today’s economy no-one theirs a excess of condos doesn’t make economic sense

14
1
Reply
Someone who cares about Sunnyside

“ The site, which also includes the shuttered Dime branch, is used for filming movies.”

Correct. Including movies filmed at Broadway Stages, owned by John Ciafone’s wife.

22
2
Reply
Annab

Yup – anyone who’s worked with Broadway Stages knows they’re a bunch of slimeballs who put safety last after they’ve skimmed off any and every dime they possibly can. They have the worst reputation in the NY TV/Film biz…everyone hates them.

15
Reply
Neziah Bliss

This is fantastic. Is this maybe something everyone can agree on? Even on this site? The mismanagement of that block has been so disgusting. First you close the theater, then you push out PJ Horgan’s after the fire claiming you won’t renew, and then you leave all those stores vacant for 6 years. Not in any rush to see towers go up on the Blvd., but it’s damn shame to leave blight. There’s no way those film shoots are really doing much for the landlord or the neighborhood.

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News