Image source: Friends of the Ridgewood Theater
The Times Ledger reports that the Ridgewood Theater – a historic building with a landmarked facade and marquee – could become a concert venue. The current owner is working with CPEX, a Brooklyn-based real estate firm; this property is listed in the Development & Conversion sales area of their website. They are helping to facilitate walkthroughs from interested parties.
The Friends of the Ridgewood Theater, a local group interested in preserving the the building, are thrilled with the idea of renovating and opening the space as a theater.Theodore Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, loves the idea of turning the theater into a performance space. In his words, “We’re open to any viable construction idea that makes economic sense to the owner and is amendable to the community. We are currently working with CPEX and elected officials to see of there is money to possibly do something like that.”
Two years ago the Myrtle Avenue BID considered renovating the building and turning it into a working theater, but when they saw the architect’s price tag of almost $25 million, they had to drop the plans since the amount was out of their financial reach.
Designed by architect Thomas Lamb, the Ridgewood Theater started out in 1916 as a place when one could see silent movies and vaudeville. Later it turned into a five-screen movie theater. It was closed in 2008, and at that point it had the reputation of being the “longest continuously operating first-run theater citywide.” The marquee and facade gained landmarked status in 2010, but the interior of the theater was not and became for grabs. At one point, a supermarket was being considered as a tenant.
The theater is located at 55-27 Myrtle Ave (GMAP), only a few blocks from the Myrtle-Wyckoff L train stop. This location is advantageous, since the L train runs on the weekends (apart from planned service disruptions) from the city into Brooklyn, whereas the M train does not run in Manhattan on weekends at all, currently. This means that people could come to the theater on Saturday and Sunday without worrying about having to use the disjointed M train.
The theater is also right near the eastern border of Bushwick, which has an growing arts community – a local performance venue could be appealing for the artsy-minded crowd that continues to flock to the area, and could increase Ridgewood’s reputation as a center for arts of all kinds. Finally, restoring this cultural landmark, which stands empty today, could increase neighboring property values and bring in revenue through increased business both at the theater and at businesses nearby.