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Cobble Hill Cinema Owner: We’re Not Closing

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Despite denials, rumors persist that the Cobble Hill Cinema is considering a ride off into the sunset. “I’d like to find the guy who spread that rumor and have them ride off into sunset,” said Harvey Elgart, who has owned the theatre at 265 Court Street off Butler Street since 1982. “It’s hard to explain something that’s not true. We’ve been inundated with phone calls — between 50 and 100 people, calling up and coming by the box office and asking about it,” he added. Elgart said the rumor has been so persistent that he recently put a message on the theatre marquee reiterating the theatre wasn’t closing to let the community know it’s not true. However, Angela Vita, owner of Vita Real Estate, now in its 17th year at 317 Court Street, told last week’s Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association meeting that she thinks there is merit to the rumor. In particular, Vita said that Commerce Bank recently approached Elgart about buying the property to build another branch at the location. “The theatre is a valuable property, particularly because it’s a corner property which is what the banks are looking for,” said Vita. Calls to Commerce Bank were not returned at press time. Vita said the proposed sale of the theatre is a growing trend in the neighborhood, wherein a lot of storefronts are either closing or changing hands. Among these stores is the Blockbuster Video store on Court Street between DeGraw and Kane Streets which recently closed, and rumor has it McDonalds is looking at it, Vita said. Elgart confirmed that Commerce Bank approached him, but said that was two and a half years ago and he turned them down. “It’s a valuable property. We get a call once or twice a week from people who want to buy or lease the building, but we tell them all no and say we’re not interested,” Elgart said. “Whenever the time comes [to close the theatre] it would be for a development on my own and I’m not selling the building,” he added. Elgart, originally from Sheepshead Bay, said he bought the theatre about 20 years ago and has been in the theatre business since the late 60s, when he started as a projectionist. According to theatre manager Mike Fox, the building has been a theatre since it was built in 1926 or 1927. Currently the movie house features a mix of blockbusters, to pay the bills, along with art and foreign films, but stays away from the horror and action genre, said Elgart. Elgart also has good pricing – every Tuesday and Thursday all shows are $6, as is the first showing on Saturday and Sunday on the theatre’s five screens. “It’s not just about profit. This is my hobby and what I love to do,” said Elgart. “For me it’s a good business. We’re a true neighborhood theatre, and have a core audience of movie buffs who enjoy a small theatre atmosphere,” he added. However, not all at the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association meeting walked away convinced the theatre will stay in the neighborhood. Among these residents were Joshua Levy and Nicole Bourdon, who suggested an effort to buy the theatre and turn it into a community run non-profit movie house. “Everyone in the neighborhood loves the theatre and it’s a treasure,” said Levy, adding that he feels confident that the money to purchase the theatre could be raised.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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