FAA gives green light to RKO Keith’s revamp

A rendering of Patrick Thompson's proposed mixed-use development at the RKO Keith's Theatre. Image courtesy Studio V
TimesLedger Newspapers
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

The federal government has decided that the proposed renovation of the RKO Keith’s Theatre in downtown Flushing would not pose a hazard to planes landing and taking off from LaGuardia Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration declared the proposed development safe in December, and without any further appeals that declaration will become final at the end of the month.

Developer Patrick Thompson was cleared by the city Board of Standards and Appeals over the summer to build a 162-foot, mixed-use building on Main Street while incorporating the beloved and landmarked RKO Keith’s Theatre lobby into the design.

But on Sept. 23, the FAA issued Thompson’s lawyer, Howard Goldman, a letter saying the structure might interfere with the airport’s safe operation and that an investigation was needed.

That investigation has been concluded by the FAA’s Obstruction Evaluation Group.

On Dec. 13, the group sent a letter to Goldman clearing the proposed development of posing any hazard.

“This aeronautical study revealed that the structure would nave no substantial adverse effect on the safe and efficient utilization of the navigable airspace by aircraft or on the operation of air navigation facilities,” Sheri Edgett-Baron, manager of the group, said in the letter.

The green light means that Thompson will begin construction as soon as possible, according to spokesman Michael Nussbaum.

“We are very confident that we will get the final statements from the FAA,” he said.

Once the declaration is made final, Thompson hopes to begin the construction process as soon as possible, Nussbaum said.

The delay in construction came after the FAA had previously expressed concern that the building would be tall enough to present a physical obstruction to planes landing and taking off. The agency also was worried that the power required to run the building could create an electromagnetic interference with an aircraft’s navigation system.

The Dec. 13 letter vindicated the plans for the development, but not before a lengthy and thorough letter of objection to the structure was sent by a man named Christian Kellberg, who lives in Virgina.

The FAA refuted all the objections raised in Kellberg’s letter, but the Dec. 13 missive was still not the final word.

Anyone opposed to the FAA’s ruling has until the end of the day Thursday to submit a petition against the ruling.

If a petition is received, the FAA will not make the determination final until it is resolved.

If no petition is received, the determination will become final Jan. 22 and will remain valid until June 13, 2013.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 7:52 pm, January 11, 2012
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Reader feedback

Douglas Reilly from Downtown Flushing says:
Are they serious...they simply can't be...

First the city allows a slezy developer to nerly destro the Keith's after he was told to cease demolition. What did Huang get for that-not even a slap on the wrist.

Now we will see an already crowded neighborhood get still more congestion. This area already has one white elephant-the Sky View Parc towers on College Point Blvd. All they have sold there is 60 out of 1200 units.

Can we say "saturation"?

Demolsih a wonderful old theatr for more apartments for the rich---yeah, sure......
Jan. 18, 2012, 9:18 pm
Douglas Reilly from Downtown Flushing says:
I looked up the flight patters from LGA, and wan't very happy at what I found:

7000' foot runways (including 13-31, which when used as Runway 13m leads traffic directly over the site of the Keith's.

In fould weather, planes have cleared the building there by some 300-400 feet. Not a very nice comfort zone, is it? Now the FAA want's to allow a developer to narrow that zone considerably. What we have here is a good recipe for a nightmare, and no one care.

Well they will care whensome Airbus jockey plants himself, his passengers and crew and a nice big airliner right into this obstruction....
Jan. 18, 2012, 9:51 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

Community News Group

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!