The Rockland Drive-In Theater showed its last film in 1987, but now the screen itself has met its cinematic demise.
The 77-foot screen along Route 59 in the hamlet of Monsey was torn down last week, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News reported. A 77-foot, five-and-a-half-story office building has been proposed to replace the theater in hopes of attracting businesses moving out of New York City in the wake of the pandemic.
The drive-in was a mainstay in the community after opening in 1955. But the entertainment center with a 1,500-car capacity closed in 1987, ultimately standing vacant for longer than it operated. Lohud reported the site has become known for abandoned cars, homeless squatters and even thousands of chickens used for a religious ritual in the heavily Orthodox Jewish community.
Town Square Development has proposed replacing the abandoned site with a 6.5-acre office building on the 22-acre site. The property would include 422 parking spaces along with crosswalks to the Town Square Shopping Center, which has an Evergreen supermarket.
There are no immediate plans on what will happen to the remaining 15-plus acres on the site.
Construction on the office property is expected to start next year, made possible after the drive-in screen was razed. The development is expected to cost about $40 million, according to Lohud.
“The site has been vacant for as long as I can remember and known as an eyesore,” Ramapo Supervisor Michael Specht told Lohud. “This redevelopment is good for the area and fits the commercial zoning.”
This isn’t the first time developers have attempted to replace the drive-in, but this effort already appears to be making more progress. A plan more than a decade ago for a Walmart at the site was met with heavy protests; the store was never built.
[Lohud] — Holden Walter-Warner