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Keith’s owner has his bank closed by feds belongibenefit RKO Keith’s

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The landmark RKO Keith’s Theatre in Flushing has fallen into disrepair following decades of movie palace glory, but organizers of a comedy fund-raiser Friday night hope it will once again return to its palatial past.

Members of Friends of the RKO Keith’s, a group of former and current Flushing residents with fond memories of the theater at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Main Street, are staging a comedy show at Fuzzy’s Wolfrose at 239-21 Braddock Ave. in Bellerose at 8 p.m. Friday.

Featuring two hours of hilarity by comedians Ed Tracey, Emmanuel Baja, Jason Andors and Angry Bob, the event features a silent auction and dancing after the show.

Money raised during the event will go toward the group, working to protect the beloved movie palace, which closed 24 years ago after serving as the destination of choice for area residents since it opened in 1928. Tickets to the fund-raiser are available at savethekeiths.com.

The fund-raiser comes on the heels of a new development in the evolving saga of the fall from grace of the theatre’s current owner, Shaya Boymelgreen.

The developer, who earned a fortune as his company, Boymelgreen Developers, built thousands of apartments in New York City in the early 2000s, has had less luck in recent years.

In October, Doral Bank, the holder of the mortgage on the theater, confirmed it was negotiating a possible sale of the $20 million note it held on the property, saying it was not being serviced. The negotiations came at the end of years of dithering by the developer on plans for the space.

A former 1920s vaudeville and movie house, RKO Keith’s closed its doors in 1986. The theater lobby was later landmarked, but was nearly destroyed in 1999 after controversial developer Tommy Huang was convicted of intentionally spilling fuel in the basement. Boymelgreen bought the property in 2002.

Plans were approved to turn it into a 17-story condo tower and senior center in 2005, but the project did not come to fruition because it was not financially viable, Boymelgreen said. He tried to sell the project for $24 million in 2007, but was unable to find a buyer.

And last week he sustained a very public hit to kick off the new decade, when one of his holdings, the Manhattan-based LibertyPointe Bank, became the first New York City bank to close since December 1999.

Under the terms of an agreement with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Valley National Bank assumed LibertyPoi­nte’s $200 million worth of deposits last Thursday, and $180 million worth of loans subject to a loss-share agreement with the FDIC and other assets worth about $20 million, according to a Valley National statement.

Valley National reopened LibertyPoi­nte’s three branches as Valley National branches last week. Gerald Lipkin, Valley National’s chairman, president and CEO, said the move and its specific terms will benefit his company.

“The acquisition of LibertyPointe Bank is expected to provide us with immediate earnings accretion and an opportunity to leverage our capital base while deploying some of our excess liquidity,” he said in a statement.

The FDIC ordered LibertyPointe to halt much of its business, including commercial real estate loans, last July and last November gave the company 30 days to raise money.

Boymelgreen is under fire from many angles. He is involved in bitter disputes with residents over expensive repairs and evictions at some of his New York properties and is facing possible eviction from his headquarters in Brooklyn, according to court documents. He has also reduced his staff from 200 to only 15, according to the New York Times.

A cadre of anti-development Brooklyn residents has opposed many of his plans for the borough over the years, protesting projects — including the Park Slope Gardens condominium complex and River Front in DUMBO — and running a campaign against his projects entitled “Brooklyn beware! Shaya is coming.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 5:53 pm, October 10, 2011
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