Revival Cinema: Heights moviehouse won’t die, will get new digs

Revival Cinema: Heights moviehouse won’t die, will get new digs
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The show’s not over for the Brooklyn Heights Cinema.

Landlord Tom Caruana says he will save space for the beloved movie house on Henry Street when he tears down the old-timey theater and constructs a new apartment building at the site — succumbing to community pressure to keep the neighborhood icon around.

“The theater has been saved!” said proprietor Kenn Lowy, a local musician who bought the tumbledown picture palace last summer. “Now we can move forward.”

Under the landlord’s latest plans, the moviehouse will go from a twin cinema to single screen in the basement, with a lobby for art and singer-songwriters on the first floor.

The building’s design is still a work in progress, but Caruana said that Lowy and his scrappy theater would likely stay till the end of the summer.

“We were inspired by the community and revised our plans to accommodate him at this point,” Caruana said.

Movie lovers and preservationists were scandalized after The Brooklyn Paper broke the news that Caruana planned to raze the squat 150-seat cinema at the corner of Orange Street to make room for apartments.

The property, which sits on the edge of the Brooklyn Heights historic district, became an independent theater in 1971 and has managed to stay afloat ever since, weathering several changes in ownership.

Since it was erected in the 1890s, the one-story structure has housed a variety of tenants, including a pharmacy and coffee house — prompting the Brooklyn Heights Association to rally to protect the cinema building.

Judy Stanton, executive director of powerful neighborhood group, said she will try to convince Caruana to preserve the theater building.

“We wanted him to do historic research and provided him with then beginnings of such research,” Stanton said. “I’ll need to talk to him.”

The moviehouse will move into a temporary home — possibly in DUMBO — before Caruana begins construction this fall. The cinema’s sequel will take nearly two years to complete.

“I don’t think Tom realized how important the cinema is to so many people,” Lowy said. “Something else would be on the first floor anyway. Why not keep the theater?”

Brooklyn Heights Cinema [70 Henry St. at Orange Street in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 596-5095]. For info, visit brooklynheightscinema.com.

Reach Kate Briquelet at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.