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Who saved the Alpine theater?

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The Alpine Cinema has been saved — now, who gets the credit?

Two Bay Ridge lawmakers — who have been rivals for more than a decade — held bizarre back-to-back press conferences this week to crow about their roles in finding a buyer for the last moviehouse in a neighborhood that once had a half-dozen.

First up was City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge). The credibility of his event — bright and early at 9:30 am on Tuesday — was bolstered by the appearance of Borough President Markowitz, Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, congressional candidate Steve Harrison, Fifth Avenue Board of Trade board member Jim Clark, and Tim King, the Massey-Knakal real estate broker who sold the building.

“The Alpine has been saved!” Gentile cheered, brandishing 2,300 petition signatures that, he claimed, helped persuade owner Jeffrey Deneroff to commit to finding a buyer who would maintain the 85-year-old Alpine as a cinema.

Gentile said the new owner, Nicolas Nicolaou, would take over in July, and transform the Alpine from a weak link in the national AMC chain into an independent cinema. There will also be long-overdue renovations, Gentile said.

Nicolaou owns an independent theater on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the Cinemart in Forest Hills.

King refused to say how much Nicolaou paid for the building, which had an asking price last year of $10 million. A source close to the deal did tell The Brooklyn Papers that Nicolaou paid between $6 and $7 million.

Three hours later, state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge) presented his half of the double-feature with some of the same co-stars — King, Beckmann and Clark — but no Markowitz.

Golden said his office “worked incredible man-hours” to convince state regulators to expand the boundaries of an Empire Zone in Sunset Park to include the cinema, which is at Fifth Avenue and 68th Street.

If such an expansion of the zone goes through, the Alpine would become eligible for a long list of tax credits and energy cost abatements.

Golden also mentioned renovations that Nicolaou will make — plus converting some currently unused space into a community theater.

And Golden’s press conference did have Basil Capetanakis, president of the Fifth Avenue Board of Trade, who has been credited by both sides for finding Nicolaou and hooking him up with Deneroff.

“Basil made the shidduch,” Markowitz had said earlier, employing the Yiddish word for arranged marriage.

But the language of this deal was probably Greek.

“I found him in Greek circles,” Capetanakis told The Brooklyn Papers. “I asked around for recommendations and when I met him, we hit it off from the start. He is Greek, so maybe that helped with the trust.”

But Capetanakis said what most impressed Nicolaou was local coverage of the Alpine saga. “He read the papers and said, ‘I can’t believe how much the community loves this theater. I have a theater in Forest Hills, but they could care less what I do.’ That sealed the deal for us.”

Capetanakis said that the best thing about the deal is that Nicolaou is not an absentee landlord.

“Usually, someone buys the building and hires an operator,” he said. “But this guy loves the movie business.”

For his part, Golden sniffed at his rival’s role in keeping the Alpine alive.

“This took more than just signatures on petitions,” he said. “We put all the minds together.”

Reporters had asked Gentile what role Golden had played, but the councilman merely threw up his hands and said, “I don’t know.”

Neither press conference had the man of the hour, Nicolaou, who was said to be in Cyprus.

“But when he gets back, we’ll give him a big Bay Ridge welcome,” Gentile promised.

The battle between Bay Ridge powerhouses — Golden, a former city councilman who went on to the state Senate, and Gentile, a former state Senator who went on to the City Council — didn’t surprise anyone.

“It’s always like this,” said one impartial official. “But in this case, with all due respect to Marty Golden, who is very effective generally, he didn’t have anything to do with this deal.”

King and Capetanakis, who were in the best position to comment, refused to weigh in on the clash of the titans.

“Personally, I don’t care,” Capetanakis said. “All I care about is keeping Fifth Avenue alive.”

Even as everyone was claiming credit for saving the Alpine, the irony is that the theater does make money. Its former operator, Loews, said the Alpine had 300,000 customers last year, which is a lot for Bay Ridge, but, apparently, not enough foot traffic to please a national chain — especially after the Alpine’s only rival, the Fortway Cinema, closed last year.

“The big guys don’t run these things any more,” Gentile said.

Markowitz said he was most pleased about the deal because of the dearth of moviehouses in Brooklyn.

“We have 2.6 million people, but the fewest number of screens, per capita, of any borough,” he said. “So it was important to keep this place for family entertainm­ent.”

Behind him were posters for the movies “Silent Hill,” “The Sentinel” and “Scary Movie 4,” plus tamer fare such as “The Wild” and “Ice Age 2.”

One Alpine customer said he was pleased to hear that the theater had been saved. But now he wants more.

“How come they won’t show ‘United 93’ here?” asked the man, who gave his name only as Jeffrey. “And how come they never showed ‘Munich’? Is it because there’s a mosque next door? Just asking.”

For the record, Jeffrey had bought a ticket to the horror movie “Silent Hill” and was not happy about it..



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Reasonable discourse

Lou Gmiter Sr. from Old Sunset Park says:
It was good to hear of the Alpine being kept open, it was where I went in the 50's to the 70's, it's great when a community has the art's of cinema and a real boost for the neighborhood, thank you. I hope that my screenplay's can get filmed so they can be shown there.
Aug. 12, 2008, 5:23 pm
We need better regulations from Bay Ridge says:
It needs saving again.

The toilets are filthy and often blocked and they let kids into R Rated movies without adults.
July 8, 2011, 9:51 pm

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