Hidrock Realty’s decision to move ahead with turning the famed Pavilion Theater in Park Slope into a residential building, despite assurances that it would not do so, is based on evolving “movie attendance patterns” and the inability of theater management to maintain a “quality operation” suitable for the neighborhood, the developer told The Real Deal Thursday.
Hidrock filed plans Wednesday to convert the building at 188 Prospect Park West into a 24-unit building, as TRD first reported. The news was picked up by several local outlets, and prompted City Council Member Brad Lander to say that “it is deeply disappointing that they appear to be going back on their word,” referring to Hidrock principal Abraham Hidary’s comments in 2006 that there was “no merit to ever thinking it might be a conversion.” Hidary also said at the time that “to convert a building that is throwing off income and is successful … there’s no reason.”
In a statement sent to TRD Thursday, a representative for Hidrock said that “indeed was the case at the time, almost a decade ago. What has changed is that over the last nine years, as movie theater attendance patterns evolved, the theater’s management has been unable to maintain a quality operation appropriate for Park Slope and its surrounding neighborhoods. Moreover, the restaurant adjacent to the theater went out of business a few years ago; it already was in disrepair when Hidrock purchased it. Given these changed circumstances, Hidrock recently developed a plan to improve both buildings that we believe will create a wonderful asset for the neighborhood.”
Hidrock said that it is looking into adding a “sophisticated” theater at the project, one that is smaller and more in character with the neighborhood. While the building isn’t landmarked, Hidrock is looking to keep the façade of the building as is.
Pavilion is indeed in less than pristine condition. In 2011, it saw an outbreak of bed bugs, prompting manager Ross Brunetti to write a public apology letter. Representatives for the theater could not be reached on Thursday afternoon. Still, it manages to draw large crowds on the weekends, and is the only theater in the neighborhood.
“Even in its somewhat-faded glory,” Lander said Wednesday, “the Pavilion is part of growing up and being a family in Park Slope.”