IFC Center could leave Sixth Ave. theater if expansion blocked

Popular indie movie theater needs BSA zoning varince for $10M project in Greenwich Village
May 02, 2016 12:45PM

The show could be over for the IFC Center movie theater in Greenwich Village, should the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals block a $10 million-plus theatre expansion project.

IFC needs a zoning variance that would enable the popular art-house theater to nearly double its footprint at 323 Sixth Avenue, the 160-year-old building it has leased from landlord Friedland Properties since 2005.

While the theater got the go-ahead from the Landmarks Preservation Commission in December to add six theaters and expand its square footage to more than 20,000 feet, the BSA’s denial this summer of a zoning variance required for the project could see IFC leave its Greenwich Village location, according to Crain’s.

“IFC intends to continue to serve the Village for decades to come by entering into a new, long-term lease for the property if the variance is granted,” the center said in a statement. “However, if the expansion doesn’t happen, IFC might not be able to justify the lease extension beyond its current term.”

One issue possibly hindering the zoning change is that 16 percent of a vacant lot behind the theater – also leased by IFC from Friedland and key to the expansion – is zoned for residential use, and community members are opposed to that land being zoned for commercial use in perpetuity.

IFC is owned by AMC Networks, whose CEO Joshua Sapan donated $5,000 to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York fund five months before the theater’s expansion was unveiled.

That donation has come under scrutiny, particularly with the de Blasio administration’s campaign financing practices currently being investigated by city and federal prosecutors – though Sapan is not under investigation. [Crain’s]Rey Mashayekhi