Jan. 5, 2015 By Christian Murray
Sunnyside Center Cinema played its final film last night representing an end of an era.
The theater was in operation since the late 1940s at a time when there were at least three other movie theaters in the neighborhood as well as the Sunnyside Garden Arena, which was once a popular boxing and wrestling venue.
In the 1960s, there was the Bliss Theater on Greenpoint Avenue, which is where the Jehovah’s Witness Hall is located today. Furthermore there was the Sunnyside Theatre, which was located on Roosevelt Avenue and 51st Street (the building has been demolished) and there was also the 43rd Street Theatre, located across the street from the Sunnyside library.
The closure of Cinema Cinemas represents a new period for Sunnyside as several older buildings are likely to come down to make way for larger residential buildings. Just two months ago, AB Capstone Development sought permits from the Building Department to demolish the former King Boulevard store—and adjacent stores– on Greenpoint Avenue as it plans to develop the site.
The rezoning of Sunnyside/Woodside in 2011 provided developers with the ability to construct larger buildings on Greenpoint Avenue and Queens Blvd. The rezoning made it economically advantageous for property owners and developers to put up new structures.
Rudy Prashad, the owner of the Center Cinemas, said last night that he was sad to close the theater but he had no choice but to leave.
He said he hopes that John Ciafone, who is developing the site, will stick to his word and discuss reopening the theater when the project is complete.
Prashad said he has until January 10 to move out—from getting his projectors out to taking out all the seats.
While Prashad has three other independent theaters—one in Islip, Baldwin and Kew Gardens—he said the issue is not about how many theaters he has.
“It’s not about whether I have three, four or 10,” Prashad said. “It is about Sunnyside and I love it here.”