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Rental Units to be Built On Top of Brooklyn Heights Cinema

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First, the unambiguously good news: the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, originally rumored to be on the chopping block, is going to remain at 70 Henry Street and continue to operate under its current ownership. The more debatable news is that the building that houses the cinema, built in 1895 and renovated in 1971, is going to be demolished and replaced by the glassy, industrial building pictured above, in which the movie theatre will be relegated to the ground floor and basement and the upper four floors will consist of 17 rental units. These plans, presented yesterday by Randy Gerner of Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel, led to some lively Landmarks Preservation Commission debate, as no one could quite agree whether or not the original building was worth preserving.

On the side of preservation were Councilman Steve Levin, who had a letter read on his behalf in which he called the existing building "both architecturally and culturally significant," as well as representatives from the Brooklyn Heights Association, Community Board, and various Landmarks commissioners. Some commissioners were in favor of preserving the existing building but allowing a four-story addition to be built on top of it, while others maintained that if the building was deemed worthy of saving that would make the huge addition inappropriate, and still others claimed that the building was not worth saving in the first place because of changes to the exterior made during the 1971 renovation. A few community members also spoke in favor of the plans, calling the existing building "an eyesore." And none of that even takes into account the new design, the appropriateness of which was also the subject of much debate. Nowhere close to coming to an agreement, the LPC agreed to table to discussion and revisit it at a later date. But, more importantly, what do you think? Is the old building worth saving? Does the new one fit in with the neighborhood? Have it out in the comments.

70 Henry Street

70 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY