The RKO Hamilton Theater is a historic New York City institution and, as such, it should come as absolutely no surprise that it will soon share its site with a stack of luxury condos. As with the RKO Keith's in Flushing, the new owner of the Hamilton Theater is looking to restore the historic interior and construct a condo addition. Unlike most condo additions, however, which usually go on top of the landmarks, this one will be built between the theater and a neighboring building. The proceeds will go to restoring the dilapidated theater and turning it into a community performance space. Preservationists view this basically as a victory—condos are seemingly inevitable, while restoration is not—although the Historic Districts Council, at a recent Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing, did criticize the plan for not doing enough to restore the exterior of the theatre.
The building is a protected landmark, so it was never in danger of being demolished (except by neglect), but the community was still somewhat concerned when the Hamilton Theater was acquired in 2012 by developer Ben Ashkenazy, who paid $19 million for it and the neighboring building. The plan, which was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission last Tuesday, calls for the addition to be built between the two buildings, set back from the street. There is also still a chance that the combined buildings could be used for retail instead of condos.
· Historic West Harlem RKO Hamilton Theater Could Become Luxury Condos [DNA]
· Hamilton Theater coverage [Curbed]