Project Category: Innovative Project Financing
Organization Name: NYC EDC
Project Location: Brooklyn, NY
Project Cost: $95,000,000
Located in the thriving heart of New York City’s largest borough of Brooklyn, lies the majestic Kings Theatre. Kings Theatre is quickly re-emerging as one of the finest places to attend a live performing arts show. Reopened in 2015, the theatre is already attracting huge names from a wide variety of different entertainment backgrounds ranging from Comedy Central’s Daniel Tosh, Hit Indie electronic band Passion Pit, “The View’s” Whoopi Goldberg, and even the world renowned Moscow Ballet have all performed at Kings Theatre since its reopening.
The Kings Theatre was originally one of five of the original Loew’s “Wonder Theatres” of New York City. Aptly named, Kings was built and styled as a French movie palace by the prestigious Rapp & Rapp firm. The theatre was heavily influenced by the Palace in Versailles and the Paris Opera House. Walking into Kings is like stepping back in time to watch a live performance as French aristocrats once did. From the magnificence of the chandeliers down to every stitch of ornate carpeting, it is hard to call Kings Theatre anything but spectacular.
Kings Theatre soon became the place to be after opening to enjoy live performing arts, featuring performances from George Burns to Barbara Streisand. In fact, Brooklyn legend has it that when Streisand was a little girl, she said that she wanted her name up in lights in the Kings Theatre, little to her knowledge her name would be. In addition to the enormous talent that made Kings Theatre a hit, Kings played a very important civic role for the local and national levels as well. The theatre held numerous high school graduation ceremonies for the local community, and on the national level, the theatre held rallies to sell war bonds during World War II to help fund the war effort. Despite this rich history, the King’s theatre eventually began a steady decline until 1977 when it closed its doors for a long 37 years.
Kings Theatre took quite a while to reopen its doors but it was well worth the wait. In 2006, the NYEDC was hard at work with the City of New York and the State of New York to reopen and after numerous proposals; Kings was finally reopened in 2015. However, due to the theatre being left abandoned for nearly four decades, significant work had to be done. Changes to the theatre dealt mainly with work that was done behind the scenes. For instance, new HVAC systems were installed, new plumbing was installed, the stage was expanded for modern performances, and the building’s energy systems were updated to modern systems, which include some sources of green energy. The aesthetic of the theatre however has not changed one iota. Work was done meticulously to refurbish the theatre while keeping its ornate nature. No detail was overlooked, from the magnificent red stitching of the seats to the elegant marble flooring; it was all kept as close to original as possible.
Today, like in the past, Kings Theatre is an important part of the Flatbush area of Brooklyn. The King’s Theatre has once again become the central hub of the neighborhood, attracting both locals and people coming in to see a show. This is not only good for the theatre but it is also beneficial to the numerous local businesses in the Flatbush area.
Current Status: Complete
Community Needs Addressed:
Employment: In order to redevelop and then operate the theatre, many people have been employed by the project. In fact, there have been 500 construction jobs and 55 permanent jobs created. It must also be noted that many of those construction jobs dealt with high skill employment in order to restore the theatre in such stunning detail.
- Culture: With this project having taken place, there is no shortage of performances of all different kinds that take place at Kings Theatre. This provides the community a venue to see the biggest names in the business by only walking or perhaps a quick subway ride.
- Transportation: One concern about getting anywhere in New York City is the proximity a given location is to public transportation, and King’s Theatre is no exception. The theatre is very close to public transportation, being less than .5 miles from NYC subway system and is within walking distance from popular local stores and restaurants.
- Green Energy: As a part of the Kings Theatre’s redevelopment plan, the project calls for green energy as a part of its overall power solutions. This then means the Kings Theatre emits less greenhouse gasses and overall has a low carbon footprint.
Benefits and outcome:
- Economic Development
- The Flatbush area, before Kings Theatre’s reopening, was struggling, but with the addition of the theatre, it acts as an economic anchor, providing much-needed stimulus for the area’s local businesses to thrive.
- 500 construction jobs and 55 permanent jobs have been created.
- Community Development
- The financial burden on the city’s taxpayers and government will be lessened.
- Incorporating new green energy technologies will help reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
- A restored historical and cultural landmark was brought back after nearly four decades of it being closed, with frequent tours that are open to the public.
- Outreach for theatre education helps students that are interested in show-business gain valuable experience while still in school.
- Cultural Development
- Huge stars and big names from a wide variety of musical, theatrical, and sporting backgrounds are already flooding the Kings Theatre’s doors.
- Despite having these huge stars lining up to perform at Kings Theatre, the theatre pays particular attention to the tastes and likes of the local community.
Project partners and collaborators:
Due to the size and scope of this project, it would be impossible to complete without numerous entities and dedicated individuals to make this project happen. When the theatre originally closed in 1977, the then owner had not paid taxes and eventually in the 1980s, the New York City Government assumed ownership. In 2006, the New York Economic Development Corporation sought to reopen the theatre, and with the help of Brooklyn borough President, Marty Markowitz and New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, that dream was on its way to becoming reality.
In 2008, Markowitz and NYCEDC began taking proposals for a company that will restore, redevelop, and then operate the theatre. It took almost two full years of rigorously assessing various proposals to do the redevelopment but eventually in early 2010, President Markowitz, Mayor Bloomberg, and the NYCEDC announced that the developer and operator would be the well-respected ACE Theatrical Group LLC, which is based out of Houston Texas. ACE has a long history of redeveloping, renovating, and operating historically significant theatres from around the country.
With the operator and redeveloper found, financing flowed in from a number of very important actors both public and private into the Kings Theatre Redevelopment Corporation. United Fund Advisors, the City of New York, New York State, Goldman Sachs, and the National Development Council invested $95,000,000 in the project. These funders understood that the Kings Theatre, by hosting world-renowned stars would attract local and nonlocal money alike, which helps businesses, creates jobs, and helps train students in the community.
What makes your project unique?:
This project holds uniqueness in a variety of areas, almost too many to name.
- Being only one of five original Loew’s “Wonder Theatres” is of massive historical significance, so much so that the State of New York and the United States Government have both designated the theatre as being historically significant in their own rights.
- Theatres or buildings more generally, are simply not made in the exquisite detail, style, and design that Kings Theatre was crafted with.
- Incredible performances took place here with names like George Burns and Barbara Streisand taking the stage at Kings.
- Kings has always been there for helping the community and even the country by hosting graduations to holding rallies for war bonds.
- This project has provided a vast number of jobs in its renovation and operation, including construction jobs, high skilled restoration jobs, and theatre operations jobs.
- Investment has surged in the local community since the theatre became an anchor, which can be seen by the before and after pictures.
- This project has been a nationwide public/private project whereby funding came from the public sector, the City of New York and New York State, and the private sector through numerous investors. Ownership of the theatre is retained by the City of New York but has been renovated and operated by theatre restoration extraordinaire in ACE LLC.
- Kings Theatre is one of few places left in New York City, even the United States, that ordinary people can attend a live performance in which they are seated as if they were European nobility, all the while having modern amenities.
- Even though Kings only reopened a couple years ago, big names from numerous backgrounds have performed already including Bjork, Whoopi Goldberg and the Moscow Ballet.
- Even though the theatre gets such big talent and preforms hundreds of shows a year, the theatre has made it a point to listen to the tastes of the local Flatbush Community.
- For nearly 4 decades, the decaying Kings Theatre sat and began to wither away, having its grandeur slowly fade into history, but no longer.
- Now, the local community not only has a pretty face to look at in the newly renovated theatre, they also have a theatre right in their backyard that hosts headline events that can fit almost anyone’s tastes.
- ACE LLC has had a long history in reaching out to students in the communities where it operates theaters; exposing the students to the theatre business and providing them with valuable internships.
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