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Sunnyside’s Movie Theater to Close Next Month

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Dec. 7, 2014 By Christian Murray

Sunnyside Center Cinemas will be closing its doors on January 4 after screening movies in the neighborhood for decades, the theater’s owner said Sunday.

Theater owner, Rudy Prashad, said he was informed last week that John Ciafone, whose wife owns Broadway Stages, was not renewing his lease. His lease ends December 31 but he has been given to Jan. 10 to clear out of the building.

Prashad said that he had been going back and forth with the property manager for months as he wondered what was happening to his lease.

“They strung me along,” Prashad said, “But I guess it’s their building and they are free to do what they want.”

“It is a very sad day,” Prashad said. “I was hoping that the cinema would stay and one day be landmarked.”

Prashad said that he also felt sorry for some of the families in the neighborhood who will have to pay double to go to the movies elsewhere. “We haven’t changed our prices for years– $5.00 for children and seniors, while $7.50 for adults,” he said.

There is also the ‘kid combo,’ he said, which consists of a popcorn, soda, candy and a movie for $10. Before 5 pm each day, adults only pay $5.

Prashad said that he had no ill will toward Ciafone and Broadway Stages. “I was disappointed with Dime Bank [the previous owner],” he said. “I was negotiating a 20-year lease with them and then they suddenly sold it.”

Dime sold the property to Ciafone for $6.65 million in December 2012.

Prashad had owned the theater for nine years and believes there has been a theater at that location since the 1940s.

He said that he had been paying between $13,000 and $14,000 in rent per month and was always on time.

Prashad said the theater is one of the last independent theaters left in Queens.

There is an independent theater in Kew Gardens, which happens to be owned by Prashad.  He thinks that theater might be the only independent theater left in Queens playing American movies. There are one or two others, he said, but they cater to ethnic groups.

pj1Prashad said that he would like to thank the residents of Sunnyside for their patronage over the years and plans on showing a free movie before he leaves.

With Center Cinemas gone, Ciafone is now trying to lease the air rights to a developer to build residential apartments above the ground-floor retail space.

The owner plans to keep the retail space while leasing 52,000 square feet of air rights to a developer. The developer would have to pay a ground lease of $750,000 per year for those rights.

Ciafone plans to keep PJ Horgan’s as an on-going tenant, said Evan Daniel, a broker for Modern Spaces, which has the real estate listing. Daniel said that PJ Horgan’s is the only business with an existing lease and is well regarded by the community.

When Ciafone purchased the building, PJ Horgan’s, Dime Bank, dentist Dr. Arthur Kubikian, and Center Cinemas were all tenants.

PJ Horgan’s, which rents 1,300 square feet of space, has a lease through June 2018. “They are a good tenant that pay market rent,” Daniel said.

The ground-floor retail space is likely to be completely refurbished, Daniel said. However, nothing will change that will impact PJ Horgan’s business.

Correction: The property is owned by John Ciafone whose wife owns Broadway Stages– not Broadway Stages the entity.

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Center Cinemas and Modern Spaces advertise with this site

 

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95 Comments

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Eric Wolfsbane

This really sucks. I’ve patronized this cinema for decades, since the early 1990s, though I no longer live in the immediate area because it was a good deal. I also patronized the local Queens Blvd restaurants when I went to see films there, as others likely did. Now they’ll be losing out on the theater crowd business as well.

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np

Its good their doing this. The whole block is old, dAted. Same as over by 48&gp ave. The clothes shop had junk, and the 2 stores next to it were disgusting. Maybe this is a good thing where prices rise and we get rid of the low lifes who ruin this neighborhood. They wont be able to afford to live here and move.

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Anna

On a serious note, the developer/management company “Broadway Stages” is very, very bad news. They have a number of violations against them, are enormously crooked, and “make charitable donations” to politicians – including to Jimmy Van Bramer – to help them get their way. A very bright light must be shone on this company before it gets a foothold in and wrecks our beloved neighborhood. http://queenscrap.blogspot.com/2013/12/true-pillars-of-community.html

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Feras Othman

[email protected]$! Big business And Broadway stages…you should be ashamed of yourselfs….13,000-14,000 isn’t enough for you money grubbing dirtbags! Is an extra few grand gonna make that much a difference to you? Prob not…but the many low income people and families you just victimized will now not be able to afford some well deserved escapism! I’M DISGUSTED! IF ANYONE WANTS TO PROTEST…PLEASE GET IN TOUCH!

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Feras Othman

I think most the sentiments above summed it up pretty well! This is all about greed and shortsightedness.this is whats wrong with are city in a nutshell! These theater was a rare gem…that actually did good fir the community! All these idiots and scumlords who think they will continue to see profits in rent are gonna be rightfully crapping themselves when the big economic crash comes and it will!

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Anonymous visitor

So why didn’t you buy it? Put your money where your big mouth is!! All you whiners should put up or shut up. You have no right to tell someone what they should do with their property and their money. There are enough of you complaining on here. Put your hard earned cash together and buy something. Them you are free to run it as a non-profit if you want! Or better yet, pump more money into each month. Let’s see how that works out for you. I hope your “scumlord’ throws you out on your A**

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feras othman

you obviously miss the point!!….the people protesting are of low income. they rely on this theater…as for defending the owners..you must be related! your rt they can do what they want with it! legally. but this transaction is extremely shady and probably not legal!!! learn the facts! before you defend ignorance!

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Sunnysideposthatesme17

This neighborhood is dying? This neighborhood was shot in the face years ago. I’ve been saying it for the longest and you guys have only rolled your eyes at my comments. Well now you can all suck it.

Sunnyside SUCKS

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A. Ross

This is sad. Our quaint little neighborhood is dying. This was one of several places that brought us many memories. As it is, our town/boro is becoming an extension on Manhattan. We all know what’s going to happen…. More condos & skyrocketing rents. It’s not only killing the history, but driving people away who have been here for yrs/generations. Same thing that’s happening with the corner of Greenpoint & 48th, where King Boulevard was.

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advice to patrica dorfman and anyone else 50+

it is almost 2015, havent people learned that no one reads multi paragraphed epics on the web, sum it up in 2 sentences MAX, people will get your point and you’ll make an impact, for example like this:

I say the owner goes out with a bang, he should IMMEDIATELY rename it the PLEASURE PALACE and convert to XXX flicks until the bulldozer is parked out front!!!

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SunnysideTeenGirl

I’ll admit, these theater did have some quirks which maybe have been a teensy bit of a turn off, but in all honesty, you will never find gems like these around nowadays. Not to put them down, but compared to Kaufman theaters in Astoria, this place has a homey, old-fashioned feel to it when you enter. It’s in the vibe of the place.

Cheap prices, friendly service— I’ll really miss this place. I hope I can fit in watching another movie here before it closes! Will it be showing movies until January, when it closes?

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blame airbnb

Sounds like another one getting ready for the Sunnyside boom soon to happen with the Sunnyside Yards decking plan. The writing is on the wall. I always like this neighborhood because of the cheap movie tickets, cool thrift store, New Post diner and various shops that have all closed. It made it feel ‘real’ not phony or chain-ish. There are a few cool places left but I can’t imagine for how long.
Let’s start a memory blog of our movie theater memories.

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Dan Toth

This is unfortunate. I wonder if a new tenant will move in and take up the theater or if it will be repurposed / torn down. I’m assuming it will come under new management since PJ Horgan’s is staying…

Despite its lackluster appearance on the outside and in the lobby area, I never had any issues with the movies I saw. Great quality projectors and sound. And the prices couldn’t be beat. What a shame.

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Patricia Dorfman

Go @Ty Sullivan!

Time for us all pick a team.

The reason I (and the late and brave Luke Adams) were occasionally spoken ill of in anonymous comments here was sometimes because we often spoke out against Sunnyside Shines/BID, the Business Development District. The BID has done good things, which is its fourfold legal responsibility, holiday lights, cleanliness, security and promotion. The BID was an outgrowth of the Chamber.

But Sunnyside Shines is a property owner’s organization by nature, legally approved by the city and funded by a tax to merchants in their footprint. The buying, selling and conversion of large local properties in the BID is not unwelcome to the BID. The funding of local groups by the BID has seemingly been contingent upon not speaking the truth about any theirs or “big business” interests. Local landowners are beginning to cash out, as we see. Can this be stopped? No.

How does this relate to the movie theater closing?

There is no united, credible voice for small merchants, professionals and residents already formed other than the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.

The reason that a pawn shop was moved into the corner of 46th and Queens Blvd., despite an outcry and 1800 signatures in opposition, was because as James Bray, former BID executive director, said at the time, the BID “had no other tenant willing to pay the high rent” to the owner. The Chamber and the public lost that round because it started too late. The Chamber learned too late of the vacancy to help fill it. New, younger Chamber members members have began an outreach, should you wish to help them, to assist in filling local vacancies with firms that residents would embrace.

Broadway Stages is not an evil entity; but it is necessarily about making money from its investment, not our local hopes and dreams. If any of us bought a property we would want and deserve to control it. But certainly, a reasonable, united voice from the small businesses and residents about rental decisions would at least be taken into account by any property owner wishing to flourish. Perhaps some concession could me made; reversal, a delay, another location for a beloved business, a museum, a mini greenspace; some public giveback.

The reason I and hundreds of others have been so supportive of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce has been, since 1947, is their mission is, to assist small business, organizations and residents and their voice is INDEPENDENT of big property owners, the city and state, developers, commercial real estate brokers and large financial interests.

Some businesses will benefit in the short run from development, but will be priced out quickly. The Chamber is seemingly the lone voice of dissent in the big landscape shift. Younger and new residents who want to maintain the area, long term residents who don’t want to be priced out, are free to join.

Is there anything to be done about the coming devastation to current small businesses and our local quality of life? A united voice, the education of voters, press coverage, and knowledge itself can do wonders.

The current president of Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce is Rigoberto Cardoso, a respected, local small businessman who won by a landslide this year by members who understood the larger issue, against the former president, a commercial real estate broker, and the broker for the movie theater building.

I urge small business and residents to form their own group, or join the Chamber, which welcomes resident members, to support Mr. Cardoso, whose organization’s voice is credible against the roar of big envelopers, real estate interests and the those who see our area as prime development acreage, not our hometown. It is our city, too.

If you wish to reach President Rigo Cardoso or the Chamber, email [email protected].

(Three notes: I have never posted anonymously or under a different name. I am a former partner/designer for the Sunnysidepost. I am not officially speaking for the Chamber, but as a Chamber booster, local professional, former VP, and concerned resident.)

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Also the truth

Right on schedule with an overly verbose yet poorly thought-out and thoroughly rambling comment.

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Haha

Yeah, a concession like a museum? I guess we’ll get the Mona lisa sent tot this new museum. Hilarious. Green Space? I feel sorry for local businesses that aren’t liquor stores and bars.

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angela

why in HELL can’t our counselman Jimmy do anything about this — oh wait he lives in Sunnyside Gardens — or he just wants tables on the El where pigeons are —

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n.

This is so sad. I have seen many movies here since I arrived to this neighborhood in the early 90’s. It’s not the best movie theater in the world… But when you enter it feels nice. It’s a little, cheap, cozy movie theater. It should be a landmark of sunnyside. It’s such a shame that it’s not going to exist anymore. Looks like no more movie theater for me. Outside this theater one ends up spending like 30 dollars or more, for only one person in a regular theater ( $15 adult ticket, $10 large popcorn, $8 dollars a large Soda).

Soooooo saddddd!!!!!

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Miss Collado

I couldn’t help but have tears running down my eyes. I lived in Sunnyside since birth but moved to the Bronx a few years ago. In the Bronx, they closed down the Whitestone Cinema by Bruckner Boulevard. It’s to be replaced by, guess what, another mall. The movie theater in Parkchester closed and has been replaced by a Marshall’s. Even though I have moved to the Bronx, I visit Sunnyside, at least, 2 times of the week and would see a movie in this small theater when interested. Yes, it was not clean but it belonged to Sunnyside and it’s quirky, lovely community. It’s dreadful having to go to Manhattan to see a movie. Sometimes you like a quiet day close to home without the ruckus of the city.

P.S. – I DO NOT go to Bay Plaza to see movies. People like to have LOUD conversations and fights with the movie screen. Never fails.

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Kramden's Delicious Marshall

Another affordable local amenity for working people – gone.

Another ugly glass tower for the rich – on the way!

Might as well close up the BID.

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SunnysideTeenGirl

I agree with your first two statements— we sure don’t need any of those in Sunnyside! However, I would like to point out that I believe the BID does not have much to do with this decision. Please correct me if I am wrong!

Your first statement, though, rings very true words. It’s hard to find nice movies at an affordable price. Wish they rethought this decision!

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Heather

Let’s see how many jobs are created (versus eliminated) by the Argento clan on this venture. Given the “trend” I’d wager they’ll place a “nice” art house cinema there and will apply for a liquor license.

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Linda

So sad! I grew up there. Watched movies as a kid, then when we were old enough, it would be a date destination. We would go to P.J.’s after for a burger. Saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show there a million years ago. It was a rite of passage. Good, no great times! Shame on them for closing it down!

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sunnyside movie goer

very very sad – love that place ! such a nice change to the corporate gloss.

I would urge the community to speak out and boycott whatever the landlord puts up in place of our little beloved cinema…..

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Magdelina

I had my very 1st there in Jan 1st 2003.
Great times with friends and family.
Going to miss this spot

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Jake M

I agree that it’s sad to see a long standing institution like this close. But it was even sadder to see the current management let it deteriorate into such a sloppy establishment. I walked by there the other day and the posters of the current movies were falling down, not taped correctly and of course no one bothered to fix them. Just unacceptable. Despite some people’s fond memories, if a business is poorly managed, it’s time is numbered. If this were a clean, well run business who knows what would have happen to the place.

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Tennille

So sad! I was just passing by it today and remembering all the times I went there with my boyfriend

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The Nature Boy

this place was such a dump. I hope they build a big ass complex with plush seats so Joe Conley and JVB can go there on a date to talk about what other land marks they will dissolve.

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are you kidding?

Who are you people? This place is a dirty dump! I walk to the UA theater in Astoria. I get a good, stiff walk plus there’s some nice places to eat nearby. You people really need to get out of the neighborhood more, no loss here.

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Anonymous visitor

You are a jerk, you know that? Let people be who the are. You be yourself and don’t try to export your wisdom. No one values your opinion.

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Haha

You are Poor. You need to walk to Astoria Kaufman? I drive and use their parking lot. You make me laugh. Do you walk for miles when there’s five feet of snow? Wait until you’re old. Keep walking. You’ll need to stay in shape.

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concerned

We’re laughing at people who can’t afford cars? Seriously? If your point is that not everyone has the luxury of going to Astoria and paying $14 for a ticket, then I’m in total agreement. If, however, you’re gloating about having a car, then I encourage you to try a moment of introspection.

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Hello

So now Sunnyside is left without a movie theater. Even if it wasn’t an upscale or fancy one, it still gave families the option of seeing a movie without going broke.
Thank you Center Cinemas for being part of Sunnyside!

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bigboy

Give me a break with South Pole. What a waste of prime commercial real estate. Teach your mother to use the internet. Name something that is very nice for a great price.

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Jess W.

I’ll teach my 80 year old mother to use the internet when your mother teaches you some manners. Something may not be nice to you but to an old woman, who has lived in the neighborhood her whole life, put all her money towards her house, taxes, and bringing up her kids, and now needs a reasonably priced place to shop with what little expendable income she has, south pole does indeed have nice things. Their coats are good quality and reasonably priced as are a lot of their other clothing items. Nobody said that it was a treasure trove. All you jerks see is money, money, money.

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Anonymous visitor

If you are a sample of the people moving in here, the neighborhood truly is going to the dogs. Your utter lack of empathy and imagination is scary. Are you human?

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Tom Marino

my SMH is the idea of destroying what could be a landmark building to build residential, “high-end” apartments where an elevated train sits 30 feet away. SERIOUSLY???

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Sickofit

Yup, but I lived in “Sunnyside Towers” for years, with the LIRR just in back behind Barnett Ave., you do get used to the train noise.

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Anonymous visitor

The thing is, killing us is part of their plan. So complaining doesn’t help. We are all ghosts, like Mewly in The Grapes of Wrath. Just ghosts.

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Cynthia Peralta

I am truly sad to see this place disappear as most great newyork place. I grew up in this community and although no longer live it the neighborhood, I truly cherish it. The same recently happen to another theater on Parkchester the Bronx

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Chickpea

Is there a way to petition Broadway Stage? Ask them to reconsider?

KEEP SUNNYSIDE WEIRD!

The more this happens, the more renters and small business owners will get pushed out. It is a very sad day…

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Anonymous visitor

That’s actually a great idea. There is a similar project- a non profit community cinema – opening in Harlem.

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Diana Camacho

This is very sad news. Yes the theater does need some updating, but it has been there since I was a child. I have lived here for 40 years and watched many movies there. Now my children go watch movies there with their friends. I don’t have to worry about them taking transportation or having to pay expensive prices.
Even if it has not been named a landmark, it is a landmark to many Sunnyside residents. It’s nice to keep some small businesses. Now here comes another building with tiny apartments to overpopulate Sunnyside even more!

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don

says it all . Payed his rent on time 13,000 -?14, 000. Sunnyside is all about money, like everywhere else. Watch your favorite places close over the next few years. Prices will rise, rent etc. Your take home pay or disposable income won’t .

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Mr oneal

So the landlord should not make a return on his money? He does not have expenses to run a building? He does not have to pay taxes?? The rent reflects what the market will support

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marykate

amen!!

Free maket is the way to go. The people on this board would like to make sunnyside a dump so their rent stays low.

Get a job, get a life and stop complaining about the neighborhood being improved!!

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Anna

I have a life, I have a job, and I own my own damn apartment thankyouverymuch. I live in Sunnyside because I love it, and I want to live in a place with character and history. If I wanted nothing local or unique I could save a hell of a lot of money and live in Cleveland.

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Southside betterside

Actually cleveland probably has a lot more local uniqueness than NYC at this point.

LT

i have no words to describe my sadness. There goes the neighborhood. It was a unique gem in Sunnyside and now we loose it for more generic apartments that no one whose lived here for years can afford. This city is quickly loosing all its charm.

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Jess W.

south pole is a favorite among the elder residents of Sunnyside, my mother included. They have a lot of useless junk but they also get some very nice things for great prices.

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clarkkent

this is horrible news. I hate to agree with the people who write in to this newspaper but this really hurts the neighborhood. whatever few good businesses are left are disappearing. How many nail salons, pawn shops or 99 cents stores do we need. How come the South Pole doesn’t go out of business. They are putting up apartment buildings but there will be no amenities for people who move in.

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Sickofit

I grew up here, back in the ’50s and ’60s, we had the “Bliss Theater”, the “Sunnyside” as well as the one at “Greepoint Ave., between 42nd Street and 43rd Street, and of course, the “Center Theater”. This isn’t counting the ones in Woodside. We also had five “Bowling Alleys” and a small but decent place to shoot a real game of “Pool”. Today there is not a “Market” for this kind of entertainment, it is sad, but even the “Center”, which was at one time a “Single” theater, not a “Multi-Plex” couldn’t survive as a business entity, it was never really a well appointed place as the “Bliss” or “Sunnyside” theaters were, but it is really another “End of an Era” which made out neighborhood “Sunnyside” very unique.

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Mr oneal

As much as the market will support! Sunnysiders are a backwords thinking bunch of people, more money and higher density of people is better for business and the neighborhood, everyone wants better business but would people support it?? Will they spend their money nope they will purchase online or search for the best deal possible

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Anonymous visitor

Sunnysiders are people living their lives, not consumers consuming. They will push us out in favor of consumers, but that doesn’t mean we are backward. It means we live outside the box they want to keep us in.

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Haha

You’re not necessarily correct. I already see people with bags of whole foods where they buy in the city so they don’t use local businesses. They buy everything in the city. They just sleep in their small apts which they probably share. I’ve seen that.

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Krissi

Seeing an occasional Whole Foods bag literally has nothing to do with where young residents actually shop.

If I want a good Italian roll, and I happen to be in Little Italy, I’ll pick up a roll in Little Italy. That doesnt’ mean I don’t do most of my shopping at Key Foods.

If newbies are not supporting local businesses, that’s because the local businesses are not appealing to a younger generation of residents. There’s only so many 99 cent stores and thrift shops one can visit. Establishments like I don’t know.. Molly Blooms and Stray Vintage and Vivire and wherever else that actually appeals to the younger generation are not the places that are struggling to stay open, and more classic and well cared for establishments like the Hallmark store, Flowers by Georgie, and PJ Horgans don’t have problems filing their tables or selling their wares. The newer residents are happy to support them.

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Jess W.

This theater is a sunnyside treasure! Yes it’s dirty, but it’s ours! 4 generations of my family have watched movies at Center Cinema. Shame on you Broadway Stages!

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Anonymous visitor

Are you all crazy? I made the mistake of watching a movie there about a year ago. The theaters smell of urine. It’s disgusting, good riddance. Whatever is built will improve the neighborhood. Much like the Pheonix Apts on 41st and Queens Blvd. Don’t fear change, our neighborhood can use some improvements. (No I’m not a new community member, I was born and raised here. 35yrs and don’t plan on leaving.)

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Chickpea

You must know then that it is pushing businesses out like this that will end up pushing residents like you out. That is, if you rent…

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don

says it all . Payed his rent on time 13,000 -?14, 000. Sunnyside is all about money, like everywhere else. Watch your favorite places close over the next few years. Prices will rise, rent etc. Your take home pay or disposable income won’t .

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Anonymous Pissed Off Queens Resident

You must not be from NYC. Just another transplant bitching and moaning cause it’s not up to YOUR bland standards. Go back to where ever you came from if you want cleanliness, peace and quiet. Leave NYC alone. Let’s preserve what unique character it has left.

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Anonymous visitor

“(No I’m not a new community member, I was born and raised here. 35yrs and don’t plan on leaving.)”

Though I realize it’s much tidier to blame hipsters and yuppies for everything you don’t like.

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Ty Sullivan

Another nail in the communities coffin.
Just what we need, another money hungry developer to come in and remove the “sunny” from Sunnyside with a building to cast shadows over what struggles to hold on to its uniqueness.

Unfortunately even protests will not stop this like we saw with The Subway Inn in Manhattan. All we can do now is watch some generic business move in that maybe able to afford this scumlords rent. Good job Broadway Stages. You succeeded in being the Mr. Potter to this Bedford Falls.
Thank you for being a great member of this community Mr. Prashad. You will be missed.
Ty Sullivan

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Vinny

This is horrible. It was no luxury Cinema but it was a cozy family owned place that made going to the movies possible for many people who can’t even afford seeing movies on a regular basis at high end theatres. This is really sad.

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Rosemary Berg

please change your mind on closing this movie theater. I been going to the movie theater for years and enjoyed it. There must be something you can do to cancel this plan. We need a movie theater in sunnyside, other movie theaters are too far to go to. In sunnyside their’s enough banks, restaurants, apartments, houses, coffee shops, fast food restaurant. Please their must be something you can do. I am heart broken on this news.

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feras othman

rosemary..as one of the petition finders, i feel your pain…but unfortunatly the landlord and his wife…only want profits!. plus they made a sweet deal with our greedy councilman jimmy van brenner….to hook up his freinds. this was a moneygrab from the begining. all we have now are our memories!

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ric watts

So sad. I have gone to this theater for years. To bad the developer does not want to help restore and include this in the plans.

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Jake M

Why should the developer help restore something that someone else has run into the ground. Blame the current management.

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Elyse

This decision should be protested!!! This theatre is practically one of a kind in NYC and a major highlight of the neighborhood. I will miss it so, so much.

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Anonymous visitor

Yes it should. The whole neighborhood should gather around and protest. Shame on these money hungry companys. Enough buildings and sky high rents!!!!! That theater is a landmark .. if Sunnyside Gardens is a landmark why cant the theater also be it. Such a shame ..

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A.Bundy

looks like i’ll be buying a 4k projector, nail it to the ceiling and make my own theater in my living room. sick of paying so much money at regular theaters these days.

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Lisa

please. Not another tall building with upscale prices. I love that little theater and will miss it.

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A.Bundy

It is of envy and irony that has befallen the theater. My guess is that we can expect another new condo with foo foo stores to push up real estate prices even further. Although it is beneficial to me, i really dont want to see affordability of the area completely gone.

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anonymous

this sucks. the theater has looked horrible over the last few years, but i still enjoyed going there to watch movies at a good price.

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