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Updated: RKO Keith’s sold to developer for $30M

The RKO Keith's theater on Nothern Boulevard has been sold for $30 million to developer JK Equities.
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The landmarked RKO Keith’s theater in Flushing was sold to developer JK Equities for $30 million Monday.

Delaware-based JK Equities, headed by Jerry Karlik, plans to develop the property into a 17-story, mixed use apartment complex.

The once grand movie theater, at 135-35 Northern Blvd., has had a turbulent history since it was sold to notorious developer Thomas Huang in 1986. Huang later pleaded guilty to spilling thousands of gallons of oil in the theater’s basement and for ignoring asbestos contamination in the building. He was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

The theater has sat vacant ever since and has passed through various developers’ hands.

The most recent owner was Patrick Thompson, who bought the property for $20 million in 2010. Thompson agreed to terms with the city that the property could be developed into a 407,000-square-foot complex that could include up to 357 apartments, 17,000 square feet of retail space and a seniors community facility.

These terms will apply to the new developer.

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Capital Markets Senior Managing Director Kenneth Zakin brokered the deal between Thompson and Karlik.

“The RKO theater is the development linchpin of northern Flushing and its rebirth will eventually drive growth for the whole area,” Zakin said. “It has been waiting for so long for someone to come develop it. It’s a shame, but this is going to change it all. We’re excited we were part of it,”

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 7:38 pm, December 19, 2013
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Reader feedback

Ted Goldstein from Flushing says:
While other parts of the country and other boroughs in New York are doing everything they can to restore or preserve their ornate vaudeville and movie theaters, Queens officials have turned their backs, choosing to wallowing in indifference to the fate of historic architecture. Sadly there are a number of examples of structures that comprise a 200 year time period that have already fallen under the axe of developers or come close to doing so. I can only speculate that there is now and has always been an undercurrent of corruption has allowed this process to continue for so long.
Dec. 20, 2013, 12:59 pm
N.Bigzada from Flushing says:
More unaffortable apartments without parking....
I agree with Ted, the neighborhood needs to keeps some of its historic architectures. Flushing is unrecognizable these days.
Dec. 23, 2013, 12:30 am
Paul Walker from Flushing says:
It is sad this would've brought many jobs and tourist and appealed to people of all ages and nationalities.It was one of Flushing's best kept secrets that many will miss and never got the chance to witness.Another part of Flushing's history gone because of greed.
Feb. 11, 2014, 12:38 am

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