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@