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Neighbors Decry Condo Addition to Historic Park Slope Theater

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Park Slope residents have not taken fondly to a proposal by developer Hidrock Realty to add a five-story, 24-unit condo building with a setback penthouse to the historic Pavilion Theater. The movie theater was landmarked in 2012 as part of the Park Slope Historic District and is also a distinctive building along Bartel-Pritchard Square, located at the intersection of Prospect Park West and Prospect Park Southwest. Last night, Hidrock sent Wesley Wolfe of Morris Adjmi Architects and Ward Dennis of the preservation consulting firm Higgins Quasebarth & Partners to present the plans to Brooklyn Community Board 6's landmarks committee. By and large the community felt as if the addition was out of context with both the theater building and the surrounding square, and everyone who testified at the meeting voiced their disapproval of the project as-is.

The crowd at the CB6 meeting.

The redevelopment includes the restoration of the theater, the demolition of the adjacent one-story building, and the construction of the new five-story addition. As for the Pavilion Theater, the owner decided to dedicate the entire ground-floor of both the theater and the addition to a four-screen movie theater, rather than commercial space, after pressure from the community. (The owner is now in negotiating deals with a movie theater tenant.) Plans also call for redoing the theater entrance, re-creating the balcony on the front facade, replacing the marquee, adding new windows along the 14th Street facade, and building out a rooftop addition.

According to Dennis of Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, the roof addition was inspired by the roof gardens found on historic theaters. (It wasn't made exactly clear how the proposal reflected those much more lavishly designed rooftops.) The roof addition, which will hold apartments, will have a 30 to 34 foot setback.

Wolfe presents a before (left) and after (right) view of the Pavilion.

One of the biggest changes made to the Pavilion Theater is that the 14th Street facade—now windowless with a prominent fire escape—will get lots of windows for the apartment units. The entrance to the residential portion will also be built out along 14th Street.

Another before and after of what the theater will look like with the five-story addition.

There's currently a one-story building adjacent to the theater that's a non-contributing structure to the landmarks district. That will be demolished to accommodate the new five-story building. The base of that building will be limestone with a light brick facade in an effort to reflect the surrounding buildings of the neighborhood. There will be a prominent, cast stone cornice that curves to reflect the circular street. The roof addition will be made of a corrugated zinc-colored metal.

A rendering shown with an example of the brick used for the five-story addition.

Those who showed up to the meeting expressed lots of concerns particularly of the five-story addition. When one audience member stated, "That addition does not fit in at all," she was met with clapping. Another said, "This looks like the penitentiary over in Sunset Park."

Council Member Brad Lander stepped in to praise the owner's decision to keep the movie theater rather than rent out to various retail on the ground floor. "It's a really important act of preservation," he told the crowd. [Update: According to a meeting insider, Lander referred to the project as "a really important act of preservation of use," referring to the developer's choice to return a theater to the building's ground floor.]

Ultimately, the Community Board 6 landmarks committee voted to approve the addition and the restoration of the theater, although that approval was highly conditional on future changes to the addition's design. The committee wanted to ensure that the top-floor penthouse would be set back, that the cornice would be lowered to the fourth floor to match the adjacent building, and that the five-story addition would be "more reflective of the character of Bartel-Pritchard Square." They also approved the demolition of the existing one-story building next to the theater.

The proposal will move to the Landmarks Preservation Commission in August. The developers also expect to return to Community Board 6's land use committee for a zoning approval this fall.
Park Slope's Historic Pavilion Theatre May Get 24 Condos [Curbed]
· All Pavilion Theatre coverage [Curbed]