Ridgewood Theatre up for landmarking

By James Kelly | March 21, 2009 12:57AM

 Ridgewood Theatre, then (left) and now

The 92-year-old Ridgewood Theatre at 55-27 Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens, is up for designation by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

A hearing on whether to designate the building’s facade a landmark will take place tomorrow, with a vote by the commission planned for some time this year, said agency spokesperson Elisabeth de Bourbon.

Neighborhood preservationists have been moving to have the five-screen movie theater landmarked since it closed a year ago this month. It was purchased the same month by Anthony Montalbano, CEO of Montalbano Builders, for $6.02 million, according to public records. It went back on the market two months later for $14 million, according to the Ridgewood Ledger, but has not traded since. Montalbano did not return a request for comment.

The 20,500-square-foot building, opened in 1916, was designed by Thomas Lamb, a prominent architect who designed movie theaters across the United States, as well as several internationally, including in Toronto and Mumbai. The Levy Brothers developed the theater for $250,000.

Forest Hills resident Michael Perlman, who has been at the forefront of the landmarking effort, founded the Friends of the Ridgewood Theatre one week after it closed, and has garnered much support from Ridgewood residents and preservation organizations since. The organizations include the Theatre Historical Society of America, the Queens branch of the American Institute of Architects and the Ridgewood Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District.

Perlman said current rumors hold that the theater will reopen this spring and function as a multiplex film venue once again.

In addition to what he calls the theater’s “celebrated historical, cultural and architectural significance,” he points out the economic advantage to the area by reopening the theater.

“Reopening the Ridgewood Theatre would help boost jobs for the neighborhood, and help contribute to property values and street traffic for businesses, a huge boon, considering today’s economy,” said Perlman, who is optimistic about the landmarking.

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