Movie Theater is Headed for DUMBO — to reBar's Space!
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn's most reviled party venue, the bane of brides with wrecked reception plans, will be the new home of the Brooklyn Heights Cinema.
That's the word from movie-theater owner Kenn Lowy — who plans to open a single-screen cinema in October at the now-vacant bar space at 147 Front St. in DUMBO after he shuts down the current theater at 70 Henry St.
Lowy hasn't signed a lease yet for the picture palace's new home. He is negotiating the rent rate and the amount of space he will get, he told the Brooklyn Eagle.
“The reBar space will be happy and lively again,” he predicted.
He declined to reveal the asking rent.
ReBar's former owner, Jason Stevens, went to jail in July after pleading guilty to grand larceny and criminal tax fraud.
He had abruptly closed the DUMBO bar and party venue in May — leaving shocked brides without a place to get married and have receptions.
Stevens owes some 150 couples about $1.8 million in a civil agreement made with the state Attorney General. He's got no dough, though, so whether any of them ever gets a dime from him remains to be seen.
The move to DUMBO means the end of an era for two-screen Brooklyn Heights Cinema, which has been located at 70 Henry St. for 44 years.
The picture palace will shut down the last week of August. Lowy hasn't determined yet exactly what day the grand finale will play out.
The property's landlord, Tom Caruana, has a buyer in contract for the building, and the cinema needs to vacate it by the end of the month, Lowy said.
So will the new picture palace — a 10-minute walk from the current location in Brooklyn Heights' landmarked district — have the same name as the old one?
“That's the question everyone has,” Lowy said. “People know that name.
“I haven't decided 100%.”
He's toying with the idea of calling the new theater the Brooklyn Heights Cinema DUMBO Annex. The name might be temporary, for the first couple months.
“It will be the same owner, with the same kind of movies,” he said.
ReBar has a small cinema space in it.
“It would be very easy to move in,” Lowy said.
He would put in his own projector, his own sound system and new seats, he said.
The news of the cinema's imminent departure from Brooklyn Heights was first reported on the Brooklyn Heights Blog.
There's a message on the theater's website announcing the move to an unspecified DUMBO location and thanking loyal customers for their support.
The fact that 70 Henry St. is under sale contract sped up the movie theater's departure from Brooklyn Heights — but even if the building were not for sale, Lowy would have had to move out in the fall.
"There just aren't enough customers in Brooklyn Heights. It's a simple fact,” he said.
“This is not financially viable.”
The twinplex is losing money, “enough money so that I've put every penny of my own money into it,” he said.
He's been given the word that the building's buyer says No go for a movie theater after the purchase closes.
The current landlord put 70 Henry St. up for sale last winter at an asking price of $7.5 million. He'd had prolonged difficulties in getting city Landmarks Preservation Commission approval for a residential redevelopment plan that included space for the movie theater.
If the development design had been okayed, the Brooklyn Heights Cinema would have been able to succeed financially at its long-time location, Lowy told the Eagle.
“It's a huge loss for me, a huge loss for the community,” the Brooklyn Heights resident said of the theater's imminent departure from the neighborhood.
Brooklyn Heights residents took a moment to mourn the dearly departed — let's make that nearly departed — twin theater.
“It's a tragedy,” said Joanne Tucker. “It's my favorite theater in New York City.”
Dr. William Spier, who has lived in Brooklyn Heights for 33 years, said, “Every neighborhood needs a movie theater. I'm quite unhappy about it.”
How does 70 Henry St.'s landlord feel about selling the property his grandfather Giuseppe Zevola's company, Ridgeton Poultry, bought in 1968?
“We have no comment at this time,” Caruana told the Eagle.
A spokeswoman for sale broker Massey Knakal Realty Services did not respond to a request for comment.