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Sunnysiders Plan Rally and Start Petition Drive to Save Center Cinemas– as Landlord Offers Six-Month Extension

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Dec. 11, 2014 By Christian Murray

A petition has formed and a rally is being planned as local residents try to save Sunnyside Center Cinemas from the wrecking ball.

An online petition started Wednesday that has already garnered more than 240 signatures. Meanwhile, Ty Sullivan and Jon Stork, two local activists, are already planning to hold a rally outside the theater that is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 21 (details to come).

The petition—called “Save the Sunnyside Theater”– is addressed to the property owner/developer John Ciafone. It reads, in part, “Save the movie theater from demolition and have a new lease extended.”

Meanwhile, Sullivan is reaching out to the media and various community groups as he plans the rally. He is designing posters, fliers and launching a social-media campaign to generate community interest.

This activism comes at a time when Ciafone has just offered the owner of the theater Rudy Prashad a six month extension to his lease. After the six months, he would operate on a month-to month basis.

Prashad, however, seeks a longer lease claiming that he has organized movers and contractors to remove all the seats from the theater as required. Furthermore he has already told his staff about the upcoming closure.

“I don’t want to be in the same position in six months time where I am now,” Prashad said. “Then I’m operating on a month-to-month basis when I can be kicked out any time.”

“I need a 5 year lease–although I would take something in between,” Prashad said. However, he has not dismissed Ciafone’s offer at this point.

Prashad said that he has been surprised by the community’s desire to keep the theater going. “It shows people have a passion for the community and that they are looking out for their children and their neighbor’s children.”

Ciafone said that he decided to offer Prashad an extension since he still has a lot of work to do before he can start construction. Asked if he could do better than offer Prashad a 6 month extension—he said “that’s the best I can do.”

Ciafone plans on building a 5-7 story building with about 60-70 apartments—with about 20 percent of those units being “affordable”. The building will also have ground floor retail and a community center on the second floor.

The building requires new foundations since it was not constructed with 5-7 stories in mind. Therefore, Ciafone said, the theater has to be demolished. Furthermore, there will be a need for underground parking.

“When I finished we could invite him [Prashad] back,” he said.

Ciafone was nonchalant about the “Save the theater” petition. “I could get a petition going with just as many signatures from people wanting affordable housing,” he said.

“The likely closure of the theater is a reflection of changing times,” said Community Board 2 Chair Pat O’Brien. “You want to see small businesses prevail and they are the backbone of the economy but if they don’t have lease then there is not much you can do.”

O’Brien said it is a shame what’s happening since the cinema is one of the last vestiges of old-fashion entertainment in the area. He said there used to be several theaters in the neighborhood at one time and also the Sunnyside Gardens Arena.

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28 Comments

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Anon

60-70 more apartments. More congestion and more folks trying to get onto the 7 train during morning rush hour- as if it isn’t already crowded enough. Not sure how many more people this neighborhood can sustain with only one very dysfunctional subway line…

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SunnysideTeenGirl

I signed this petition in hopes that they will keep a neighborhood milestone up!

Also, I’m a little confused. Is the theater going to be showing movies until it closes in January? Thanks to anyone who can answer this— I feel as though I may have skipped it over in my reading!

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dont worry this is not an epic long patricia dorfman. post

shut the thing down already, were in the middle of a nice gentrification! You hippie liberals always want halt progress, idiots. People download movies and watch em at home, not in crappy theaters.

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Sunnysideposthatesme17

another building full of people who want to live on a boulevard to crowd our neighborhood even more. used to be I could take a nice stroll up and down queens boulevard. Now its so damn crowded I cannot do that anymore.

Thanks Obama!

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El loco

At least Mary Kate has the guts to say the truth! That being said it would be nice if the developer can work with the community and restore the theater before or after he puts up his building. We need to work with developers.

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34 Driggs Avenue

Here’s what I want to know. Will this building sport yet another of his illegal advertisements for his legal “practice” wherein he is clearly 20 years younger and wearing a sash for no apparent reason?

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34 Driggs Avenue

Scratch that. “Marykate” is probably a real estate agent. Trotting out zoning and calling people “whiners” (real mature, what is this junior high?) are dead giveaways.

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Sunnysider

If the building requires a new foundation then how is Horgans going to remain unaffected??? Doesn’t make sense to me

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El loco

How about a petition to blow up the 7 line. Thursday night rush hour and not running. NYC the greatest city in the world. Not even close. Pat Dorfman where are you with the petition?

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steve

I was thinking the exact same thing. Instead of worrying about a run down business, let’s protest the unacceptable conditions of public transportation. The 7 line is totally dysfunctional.

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Sunnysideposthatesme17

who would dislike this comment? some idiot who just moved in and thinks this place is just wonderful ?

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marykate

Oh Please!!! All you whiners should have bought the property when you had the chance! Why didn’t you?? Didn’t have the money?? If you bought it you could do with it what you wanted. Someone else stepped up to the plate and bought it and he has every right to do what he wants with it as long as it is permitted within the zoning. You can sign all the petitions you want. They won’t save the dump. If you want to make a change put your money where your mouth is……………..

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nobody

Agreed. This place is a dump. Dilapidated, sticky floors, covered in graffiti, infested with roaches. The owner let the wood supporting marquee over the sidewalk rot so much it endangered people who walked under it when it fell. Completely not worth saving.

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AnonSunnyHipster

I think Driggs may have the best point- the guy is a stinker. Certainly a down turn for the neighborhood to have him have a larger foot print. But I doubt that any amount of activism will have any significant impact beyond an invitation to return.

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Kramden's Delicious Marshall

Let me guess: the zoning laws have been changed/waived so this landlord can build another high rise pice of junk.

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Sunnysider4Life

@Lurtz,

50% of movie ticket buyers spend on average close to $15 on concessions, and that’s on top of the movie ticket ($8).

80% of a theatre’s revenue is from concessions.

It takes 300 moviegoers per day to make $140,000 in a given month.

That’s not out of the realm of possibility is it?

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Lurtz

So the guy is looking to build 60-70 apartments which probably would bring in $140,000+ a month and these idiots think that some petition is going to save that dump?

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Useyourwords

Building a brand new 7 story residential building has a whole slew of capital and operating expenses that the existing facility doesn’t. There’s no way of knowing what kind of cost differential the developer is looking at.

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A.Bundy

thanks for saying like it is. this is private property, and the owner can do what he wants. you can petition all you like, because legally, it doesn’t matter. there is nothing you can do with a list of signatures. building a tall condo will at least raise real estate value for use property owners that live around here.

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Hobo

You are right. You own a home? Expect to pay more in property taxes. You rent? You will pay more. You will eventually be priced out of your own neighborhood and property. You want to live across the Phoenix with a CVS open 24×7? It has an underground garage and Parkers block the street. CVS has trucks and pallets all over the place. I’m surprised no one has been injured yet. I make good money but I love this neighborhood when neighbors looked out for one another.

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