Landmarks approves Xinyuan’s plans to convert RKO Theater

Developer wants to build 269 luxury condos at the Flushing site

The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday approved Chinese developer Xinyuan Real Estate’s plans to convert a historic theater in Flushing into luxury condominiums.

It was the first time the company had presented its plans to the commission to transform the RKO Keith’s Theater at 135-35 Northern Boulevard, Curbed reported. The company will rehabilitate the theater’s landmarked grand foyer and ticket lobby, according to the publication, and use that part of the structure as the entry to the residential building. The original 3,000-seat theater will be razed, and the building will feature a robotic parking system.

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Some commissioners were concerned about cutting off public access to landmarked parts of the building. Ultimately, the proposal received unanimous support, but the commission will work with the developers to make sure there is some level of public access to the grand foyer.

Xinyuan, which operates in the U.S. through its subsidiary XIN Development, paid $66 million for the site last year. Sources familiar with the project told The Real Deal at the time the condos will be priced between $1,150 and $1,300 per square foot. The firm is targeting wealthy mainland Chinese as well as first-generation Asian-Americans with the project, a representative said.

The firm is also developing the Oosten, a 216-unit development in Williamsburg and a 100-unit project in Hell’s Kitchen. [Curbed]Miriam Hall