You are reading

Watch: Video of Suspects Installing Controversial Signage at Shuttered Sunnyside Theater

Image provided by John Ciafone

Feb. 3, 2021 By Christian Murray

Three people altered the marquee sign at the shuttered Sunnyside movie theater early Sunday morning and the landlord has released a video to the Queens Post of the perpetrators.

The prominent Queens Boulevard sign was changed by three suspects who were taking aim at John Ciafone, the owner of the building.

“Death by Speculation, Starring Limpdick Landlord,” the marquee sign reads, which went up at the vacant Center Cinemas, located at 42-17 Queens Blvd.

The video shows three people—equipped with a ladder and yellow safety vests–changing the sign at around 4 a.m. Sunday morning.

Ciafone was alerted to the signage on Sunday afternoon and was taken aback.

“These people are cowards,” Ciafone said. “They did it early in the morning when no one could see.”

He speculated that the perpetrators were part of an activist group. “They are socialists—no, make that communists—who are against development.”

The marquee sign was changed at a shuttered Sunnyside movie theater this weekend (Queens Post)

Ciafone has been subject to criticism since he bought the property off Dime Savings Bank in 2012 and decided that he wanted to develop the property.

To that end, he did not renew the lease of Center Cinemas, which closed in January 2015.

The closure of the old theater was controversial. Residents put together a petition and held a rally outside the theater as they tried to keep it open.

The property was also occupied by PJ Horgan’s Pub and a local dentist when Ciafone bought it. The operators of both were informed their lease would not be renewed and shut about six years ago.

Today, the storefronts remain vacant and the property is undeveloped.

Ciafone, who still plans to develop the site, said the incident Sunday was “mind-boggling,” and said the act was criminal.

“This was very organized, professionally done. They even had the special lettering designed for cinema,” Ciafone said. “You don’t get those letters from Home Depot.”

“I take this seriously and I am going to prosecute. People should not be defacing other people’s property.”

email the author: [email protected]

54 Comments

Click for Comments 
B

Ciafone truly is piece of s*** slumlord. I lived in one of his buildings and it was terrible! Do something with this amazing space!!!

Reply
Oscar

So people are criticizing him for not developing the property fast enough. Then you criticize developers when they develop fast enough to block your coveted view of the Home Depot billboard and the LIRR.

Hardly consistent.

How about channeling your energies towards the businesses that are being DESTROYED by our politicians actions and inactions? How about criticizing all the Departments of Whatever and City Council for changing the rules of operation on a DAILY BASIS and making our restaurant owners, cafes, bars, and shops lay out capital and labor just to cut their losses, let alone turn a profit? How about talking to a real business owner in Sunnyside who is trying to navigate through hell keeping their employees working and your privileged face fed with take-out or delivery? An outdated movie theater that most of you never even went to? A bank that was ten times the square footage that a retail bank even needs (and Dime Bank sucks anyway)? THESE are the battles you pick? Would you rather him sell it to the city to raze it and turn it into a non-profit hippie commune tent-city?

While you’re at it, look at the laws that reward developers for not developing their property PASSED BY YOUR POLITICAL HEROES IN CITY GOVERNMENT. But you don’t have time for that, do you? Too busy watching movies at home.

If you’re so concerned about a business gone for six years, be concerned about one or two businesses on your block that will be gone next month and have a conversation with the owner.

Fite me.

4
6
Reply
Oscars’ apples and oranges.

Oscar-You’re all over the board… Not all developments are created equal. You do know it’s different people complaining about different concerns. The people complaining about the slow development of the old Center Movie theatre are not the same people complaining about the Phipps project down by the LIRR and Home Depot. I’ve never heard anyone complain about an obstructed view regarding that development either.,

Reply
Jeffrey

I’m surprised the land lord was “taken aback” by what was done. He closed down a neighborhood institution, then sits on the property for over 5 years. What did he expect.

20
3
Reply
Rohan Shah

That property only has value because of the community that it is located in. The landlord may own the deed because of the accidental fact that he has sufficient capital to buy it (most landlords simply inherit their properties and wealth while their renters work to pay them), but the value of the property comes from the people who live and work in that neighborhood. Their voices should be heard in how the property is used, not just a landlord who thinks development is a synonym for profit.

22
11
Reply
Eric

While I personally would’ve left out the profanity, I otherwise fully endorse this act of protest. It’s not “defacement” in any way, shape or form. No harm came to the property by this act. What’s harmed the property, and the neighborhood, is the six years of vacancy. John Ciafone, you are the one who perpetrated a crime here.

49
2
Reply
Logan

Hey, John—even if they are anti-development socialists: You kicked out a business and then did jack. You failed to develop. Maybe nobody wants a land squatter sitting on vacant storefronts?

19
Reply
G

When is enough enough how many properties and how much money does one need what happened to having nice mom and pop businesses to make a neighborhood family oriented… do we need more mixed use ugly buildings

9
1
Reply
Douches 4cuomoblasioAoc202x

Please set aside the political commentary…this person is simply a douche. There is no question.

10
1
Reply
Black Olives Matter

If they had only worn the V for Vendetta masks, that would have been like totally awesome.

5
3
Reply
Joe

The fact that he uses socialist as an insult and doesn’t know what it actually means nor realize how beneficial it would be to our nation says a lot about him.

8
6
Reply
Tangentially Funny

Ciafone reviewed himself on google as “Bets lawyer in Astoria!” It’s under his own name and only 1 of 5 reviews. Not relevant to the story but made me laugh. It wasn’t the cleanest theater but I loved going there.

20
Reply
MJ Drage

Ciafone, you are a greedy lowlife.
I guess my last comment hurt you feelings as it was not posted.

You’re not from Sunnyside. How dare you take away our movie house. Stay in Astoria.

14
1
Reply
Weasel

THEY actually did him a favor by showing him what happens what happens when a property is left vacant for long periods of time.It would be to the owners advantage to give FIVE YEARS LEASES to prevent facility degradation and GENERATE INCOME instead of taking the LOSTINCOME TAX CREDIT

10
Reply
Anonymous

There’s lots of film productions that have used both the bank and the bar. They pay well.

Reply
Neziah Bliss

I hope they find them so we can all buy them beers.
Ciafone should look up the “Streisand Effect,” the more he promotes this the more “limpdick landlord” gets in the news with his name. It’s amazing. He runs his PR campaign like his properties.

15
1
Reply
Trump Is a Traitor.

Great prank, even better reaction! This is so damn funny.

Lordy, lordy, Ciafone IS a snowflake! Hilarious. He can barely contain his rage. What a weapons grade so-and-so.

Somebody start a gofundme for the legal defense fund for these three.

29
12
Reply
ABoondy

he didnt even get what he deserved. this was light hearted at best. i hope the city takes his dilapidated property like they did in the 90’s.

10
Reply
Death by hypocrisy

Wait, did he really say these people are AGAINST DEVELOPMENT?!??!?! Was he looking in the mirror?

20
Reply
Bring back the theater

Two thumbs up to the perps
I miss the movie theater!
Ciafone is a doofus for leaving it empty
These guys should get an Emmy and a Tony

11
Reply
[email protected]

Wow! No commenters backing the landlord? Most posts here lament the “commie socialist anarchy hell raising big doodie heads” (thank you Mr. Sullivan you commie socialist anarchy hell raising big doodie head) taking over the hood. But no minorities were involved so maybe that’s why.

12
19
Reply
Gamble Away

The person closest to the cam may or may not be Hispanic. But that’s really not the point, and you know it.

Reply
Ty Sullivan

Hey as the person who lead the charge to save the theatre back in the day I can personally say they are local HEROES and should be heralded as such. Even if their commie socialist anarchy hell raising big doodie heads. 😂
Send them my way, I’ll buy them a round of drinks to help support local businesses that weren’t as lucky as those from this corner.
Bravo!!!

85
12
Reply
dag

“I take this seriously and I am going to prosecute. People should not be defacing other people’s property.”

Ah yes, defacing property by *checks notes* hanging some cardboard letters on a movie marquee that’s been sitting vacant for six years.

If he can prosecute for that, what legal action can be taken for people who deface a community by kicking out active local businesses and leaving the property to rot instead?

109
6
Reply
No safe spaces

The devil shall not be mocked!

This Ciafone fellow is quite the little snowflake, isn’t he?

64
5
Reply
JOR

This is a scene from the movie I’m producing: Com mies vs Limpdicks – The End Days of New York City.

39
4
Reply
A Normal Person

What a cry baby. He should have just taken it on the chin. He is too stupid to know that people hate him for buying it and NOT developing. But hey, he’s one of those, “everything I hate is communism” people.

77
6
Reply
Mike O'Connor

Ciafone isn’t really doing himself any favours with his statements. He seems like a big baby with no sense of humour.

72
6
Reply
Social Commie

This is funny. Sunnyside is a pretty blue neighborhood for you to be complaining about “socialists.”

Also, you can’t prosecute. Are you a DA? If you find out who these people are, maybe you can sue, but learn your legal options before making uneducated threats.

Lastly, these socialists are against development? This coming from a landlord who has kept this property vacant for years? Let a few small businesses open up here.

I find this “cowardly act” harmless and entertaining. Power to the people.

77
6
Reply
MediumPerson

Pretty sure Ciafone defaced his own property by forcing out beloved businesses on the off chance he could make more money doing something else, and then letting everything sit there and fester, taunting the whole community, while he makes money renting out these empty shells for film shoots. You don’t have to be a “communist” to think this whiner deserves to be criticized, you don’t have to be a “communist” to think that “development” (what development?) should include the needs and wishes of the community where it happens. Rather than being “controversial,” this sign feels like the first thing in a long time that’s really bringing the community together!

75
6
Reply
nobody

What a snowflake. He and his wife have turned these buildings into a film set, taken our parking, and treated our streets as their personal places business…while giving NOTHING back to this community.

82
4
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

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.