big building on northeast corner of Lincoln Pl. and Bedford — Brooklynian

big building on northeast corner of Lincoln Pl. and Bedford

anybody know the original purpose of the big building on the northeast corner of Lincoln Pl. and Bedford? Looks like an old movie house or theatre of some type?

just curious.


  • The buildings on Bedford were all showrooms for car manufacturers in the early 1900's. The Studebaker building still has the original placard on the front, and if I recall correctly there were three or four others on that stretch as well. The old theater on Bedford is further north, I think on Dean Street on the west side of the street. Its now a church.
  • Yes. The building originally was a cinema. It was converted to a church in the mid to late '70s. The building on the diagonally opposite corner was once a car showroom. In the late '60s it morphed into the New Muse (a community museum of sorts) with lots of interactive fun exhibitions, etc. The Studebaker building is down Bedford (at Bedford and Sterling). The building also was a car showroom. It's now a landmarked residential building. Opposite...I think it's the New Life Church now...was the original Loehmann's store (until the late '60s.). The church has pretty much maintained the original facade, dragons and all.
  • I heard somewhere that the New Muse actually housed the Brooklyn Children's Museum for awhile. Apparently there was a move afoot to relocate it out of Crown Heights which by then had become a "bad n'hood". According to Ms. Rosella Johnson, ladies of the neighborhood held baked sales to raise the money to get the old Chilrden's Museum demolished and a new structure built. That structure was in turn just incorporated in the new "Big Bird" museum just reopened this year. I'd be interested if anyone else has heard this story.
  • Someone could develop a really hip bar /restaurant in some of those structures off Bedford...
  • I don't know. The white building on the southwest corner has been tried as an assortment of catering halls/restaurants over the years (for at least twenty) and no one has ever really been able to make it fly.
  • i've been thinking the defunct brew house on Bedford and Prospect Pl. (or St. Mark's, I forget which) would make a great bar; upper deck in the summer, man. just need some risk-takers with money.
  • You mean the large building that now houses a church, right? The one that also has a hat shop?

    It was once the grand Fox Savoy Theatre. There's some good info (and links to historic photos) here:

    With the Kameo just down the street on Eastern Parkway and Nostrand (with outdoor rooftop screen!!), this neighborhood was once home to some great movie houses. Too bad that times have changed.

    The old Slave Theatre on Fulton is up for sale. Are there any enterprising film buffs out there with the resources to bring the movies back to the area?
  • The Black Lady is also up for sale, right here on Nostrand and Park Place. Both the Slave and the Black Lady were owned by Judge Phillips. The Black Lady actually has stadium seating as I recall and a stage. Any ideas???
  • The church actually has been sold and is going to be demolished in a month to build some high rise condos and stores.

    If you are ever at the Brooklyn Library in Grand Army Plaza, the historical society there on the second floor has some newspaper articles for when it was built as a movie theater.

    It's truly a tragedy that such an amazing historical relic is going to be demolished.

    Someone also recently told me that in the early 80's or so, they used the place as a disco nightclub, which must have been incredible.

    Now it just houses a population of cats for the newbie hipsters to the hood to walk by and say "Oh how cute."

  • Do you have any additional details on the new building? Who is building it?


  • I also have heard that the building will soon be demolished, and the site re-developed. As a result, I decided to do a little digging.

    But first, here's some photos of the site we are talking about:

    As stated above, the property is owned by Charity Baptist Church. However, I have heard that they do not use the large theater portion of the building, because it is in a state of disrepair and their congregation is not that large.

    It isn't clear to me that the property has officially changed hands, so we may just have an "option to purchase" at this point.

    However, I'm pretty certain we are soon going to see demolition and development begin soon (say, over the course of the next 2 years) because a LLC has recently been formed: bedford avenue&p_name_type=A&p_search_type=BEGINS&p_srch_results_page=0

    NOTICE OF FORMATION OF 1515 Bedford Avenue Realty LLC.

    Articles of Organization filed with the Secretary of State of NY (SSNY) on 03/07/2012. Office location: Kings County. SSNY has been designated as agent upon whom process against it may be served. The Post Office address to which the SSNY shall mail a copy of any process against the LLC served upon him is 1515 Bedford Avenue Realty LLC, 522 Lefferts Avenue, Suite Gr, Brooklyn, NY 11225. Purpose of LLC: To engage in any lawful act or activity.

    It is a BIG site, and I understand that the developers are currently in the process of submitting plans to the city and investors.

    The LLC shares an address with a firm called Realty Within Reach.

    If I get my hands on plans for the site, I'll post them ...but I think it is reasonable to assume that after demolition and construction, we will have a new, multi-story building featuring market rate condos or apartments. a result of being at a geographic high point, the higher floors will have views of Manhattan and command in excess of $700 a sq ft....

  • Looks like the church is in the final stages of moving out of there - floors look to be mostly empty.

  • Friday they took out stove and kitchen parts. Today they packed up uhauls with a lot of chairs and tables. They also removed light fixtures and the organ in pieces.

    Does anyone know who if anyone is taking care of the cat colony that live in the brick part of that building?

  • I do not know about the fate of the cats, but I would advise them to move quick. ...The building is slated for demolition.

    Does anyone know how high the new building is supposed to be? The last I heard, it was supposed to be a mix of subsidized and market rate units.

    Possible timeline:

    Demolition and excavation, Fall and Winter 2012 - 2013.

    Pour foundation, Spring 2013.

    Fun with steel, Summer 2013.

    Facade, Fall 2013

    Interior work, Winter and Spring 2013 - 2014.

    Occupancy, Summer 2014.

  • Will there be first floor retail?

  • edited November 2014

    It is zoned R-6, which (since we are talking about new construction in a somewhat expensive area of NYC) generally means that it will become a 7 - 13 story building.

    As a general rule, buildings must provide more open space around them, relative to their proposed height. So, I predict tall a building that will take full advantage of the land's already high geographic point to provide views of Manhattan and the bridges.

    In terms of commercial, R-6 sites have a C-1 or C-2 overlay, meaning "yup, it could have ground floor retail".

    ...whether it WILL have these things depends on the market conditions that the builders/investors perceive.

  • It's a shame it couldn't be saved.

  • Several of the churches along EP used to be theaters, that have been "saved" (pardon the pun).

    Still other theaters are in disrepair and falling down, like the Slave, which might be saved

    The Kings Theater, on Flatbush, is being brought back to life:,_New_York)

    If you have ever been to Flushing, you have likely seen the old, massive RKO theater, which (after being stuck in discussion for decades) is slotted to become apartments and retail.

    Here's a list of former theaters in Brooklyn, some are shells waiting for a new life.

  • On a (geographically)-related note - what's up with the gas station on the corner of Bedford and Eastern Pkwy? They've stopped selling cigarettes and lottery tickets, and they've taken down one of the big red LED signs. Trouble with NY State, or a prelude to closing?

  • I love the smell of asbestos in the air in the smells like victory! The site was trapped/baited 10 days back or so.

  • edited November 2014

    Next step: Con Ed, the gas company and the water company come by to turn off all of the utilities.

    Then, advance crew of the demolition team spray paints markings on the building, indicating where the structural and electrical elements are.

    Then, side walk scaffolding and a wall appears.

    Finally, the monsters arrive:

  • Late Feb 2013. Demolition has yet to begin.

    Clearly, this timeline is not going to happen:

    whynot_31 said:

    I do not know about the fate of the cats, but I would advise them to move quick. ...The building is slated for demolition.

    Does anyone know how high the new building is supposed to be? The last I heard, it was supposed to be a mix of subsidized and market rate units.

    Possible timeline:

    Demolition and excavation, Fall and Winter 2012 - 2013.

    Pour foundation, Spring 2013.

    Fun with steel, Summer 2013.

    Facade, Fall 2013

    Interior work, Winter and Spring 2013 - 2014.

    Occupancy, Summer 2014.

  • It has begun. The grate on the Bedford entrance is mostly rolled up. When I peeked in a little while ago I saw there were construction type lights* hung all through the inside and there is a small construction type vehicle* with a big grabby part in the front only just inside the front doors and one man bringing pieces out.

    I was a little surprised by how small the operation is. Tomorrow I'll try to bring my phone to take a picture if WhyNot doesn't beat me to it. :)

    *I know nothing, nada, zip about construction equipment. This was a very little monster though.

  • Something like this?

  • Similar, but it had a top part to hold what the scooper thing grabbed. Similar size though.

  • sounds like interior demolition:

    Seats, furniture, non-load bearing walls.

  • The Department of Buildings and/or FDNY has now put "this building is vacant" marking on the outside walls.

    Readers, it shouldn't be long now....

  • Those who like old theaters in Brooklyn might enjoy this bike ride, which focuses on them:

  • Anyone know who is running this s*&t show, er, inept process? For the last week there was a hose running from the hydrant on Lincoln into the building under an old door. Today that hose is gone and I saw a worker clomp out with a big wrench and open the hydrant to wash his hands. Me thinks that's not standard building code? Besides this the process is going insanely slowly with limited people and the one vehicle every week or so.

    I haven't seen any permits on the building. If they ever get past this tiddly, pick-up-a-few-pieces-and-put-in-dump-truck stage and actually demo the building I hope they have their acts a little more together. For the sake of the Pre-school next door if nothing else.

  • The demolition permit states who is supervising the work.

    whynot_31 said:

    The demolition permit:

    Anyone know if getting DOB markings also means that all utilities have been shut off? ...seems logical.

    In terms of hydrants, I have seen water from hydrants routinely used for dust control, and things like making cement.

    It sounds as if they are still in the stage where they are salvaging metals and scrap.

    Given its arched roof and huge interior void, I am interested in seeing how they go about demolishing this thing.

  • Here's specs on the existing building:

    I'd really like to get the plans for the new building, and assume they will be published before construction occurs.

    ...first we need demolition.

  • I think I may have gained some insight as to why demolition has not yet begun.

    You see, the developers appear to have requested that this plot be up-zoned, and a decision will be made in the present process that re-zones CH West of Nostrand.

    If you look closely on the map below, you will see a R7D IZ proposed for Bedford and EP.

    stay with me. don't be scared.

    Basically, this would allow a much larger building than the present R6 designation.

    If the developers are successful, this building will be massive, and they may bundle the demolition costs as part of the overall Cost-ROI pitch to investors.

    Ok, now for some math:

    An R7D has a 4.2 FAR, and if the developers decide to take the affordable housing incentive "IZ", this could increase the FAR to over 5.0 (4.2 x 1.2).

    Translation: A really big, tall, building would be allowed.

    related reading:

  • A big huge building there sounds awful. What are the odds they're going to be able to rezone that little section? Do you think they'll just grease the palms of whoever is in charge? A building that like would stand out horrifically in the area.

  • If greasing of the palms is required, it has likely already happened: This map is the proposal of the Dept of City Planning.

    It now goes thru a few comment periods with CB8 and and the Boro Pres Office.

    People want "affordable housing", and this would cause some affordable units to be built in exchange for a larger building. Nothing is free....

    ...even if affordable units are not built, this building will likely be tall, so it can provide the maximum number of units with views of Manhattan.

    Note: When affordable units are built, they are often on lower floors.

  • Yeah, and I'm not sure I can be bothered to find the link, but I recently read that "affordable housing" is for people earning in the rough area of $60,000-$125,000 a year. When given that option developers serve the highest end of that spectrum so it's not even really all that affordable.

  • The definition is often based on 60% of area median income.

    Yes, their goal is to house the "best off, best behaved, and most credit worthy" of that demographic.

  • Tall buildings near subway stations make sense to me. More apartments overall means less competition.

  • Starting with the Meier building at GAP, we seem to have a tall building at every intersection on EP, all the way thru Franklin.

    The one being built on Franklin will be 8 stories. I hope to impersonate a potential buyer of a top floor unit to get to see the view on open house day.

  • Will you please take good pictures? I'm a little surprised the developers didn't buy the day care next to the theater and make an even bigger building lot.

  • edited April 2014

    Based on the dumpster out front, interior demolition seems to be continuing.

    Yes, I will take pictures....

  • Brownstoner picked up this thread today, May 21, 2013, and adds that the property sold for $575k

    Yup, the guy "Montrose Morris" describes as telling her about this site on the tour is yours truly.

  • August 1, 2013

    If all goes according to plan, the lot that the theater is on will be upzoned on August 7, 2013.

    Discussion of pending zoning changes:

    Soon afterward, I expect architect plans that are compliant with the new zoning code in effect for this lot to be filed with DOB.

    Spoiler alert: It is going to be BIG. There is going to be a lot of press about it.

    1515 Bedford Avenue,

    Brooklyn NY 11216

  • On Sept 24, the City Council finally passed the zoning changes jabbered about above.

    At this very moment, some architect is putting the finishing touches on a huge document that describes their intentions. It will then be sent to DOB and investors.

    Then, websites with paid staff (Curbed NY and Brownstoner) will beat me at this game and publish photos of the renderings.

  • edited September 2014

    We now move to the question on the minds of some people: Are the tax and zoning incentives large enough that the developer will choose to participate in affordable housing rental programs such as 421-a, or 80/20?

    My prediction: Given that the building will likely provides view of much of Manhattan as well as the Verrazano Bridge, I suspect that they will instead build market rate condos, or rentals.

    If the developer does choose to create "affordable units", they will not meet the definition of affordable used by the people rapidly being priced out of the area. They will instead be perceived as affordable only to those who are rapidly moving in.

  • edited February 2014

    whynot_31 said:

    Brownstoner picked up this thread today, May 21, 2013, and adds that the property sold for $575k

    Yup, the guy "Montrose Morris" describes as telling her about this site on the tour is yours truly.

    In return for the low purchase price, the developer must reportedly provide space for the church in the first floor of the new building. I'm also hearing that low income church members will get preference for some of the units, and that a total of 120 units are being considered.

    Note, much of this may be subject to change.

  • Workmen have started putting up scaffolding around this site. Assuming demolition to follow.

  • Yup, plans were recently filed and today (Nov 21) the real estate press is jumping on it:

    buzzbuzz wrote: In Crown Heights, a new 114-unit building is coming to 1515 Bedford Avenue, formerly home to a 1926 theater.

    Located on the corner of Lincoln Place, the 10-story, 90,806-square-foot project will be designed by Issac & Stern Architects. The developer is Realty Within Reach, according to the plan exam application filed November 18th. The building will include underground parking for 30 cars, storage, a laundry room, rooftop recreational space and first-floor retail space.

    10 Stories is pretty high, and definately the result of the recent rezoning that was passed.

    However, so far I have not seen any mention of the developer taking the incentives to build even higher and include "affordable housing", so the planned building might be all market rate, or it may have affordable units that are not open to the public and don't qualify for the incentive (ie are just for the members of the church).

    The rooftop recreational space sounds awesome, and will allow views in all directions.

  • The Daily News got an interior photo, and ran an article today. It looks totally gothic.

    They state that Brownstoner broke this story, even though it was broken by Brooklynian long before then, and Brownstoner cites yours truly as a source. I am glad I am not in this for credit.

  • And, for extra fun, here's a photo that shows what the exterior of the theater and the surrounding neighborhood looks like in 1929.

    You'll have to click, because the photo is copyrighted, and won't allow me to embed.

  • Nov 30

    Workers have now erected scaffolding all the way to the roof. As part of this process, the rusting metal fire escapes have been removed:

    Demolition of the structure looks like it will start soon.

    Cold, dangerous, labor intensive work.

  • edited February 2014
  • Dec 19

    It appears the water towers will be next to be removed.

  • Architectural MURDER plain and simple

    I have been riding past this building for six months now and always love the massive windowed arches. Last time i rode by I saw the scaffolding of doom. I crossed my fingers while reading the NYDOB notices hoping it was an exterior renovation, but alas, this, like so many other treasures before it, will be destroyed. If Yosi at Realty Within Reach happens to read this, SHAME. You have no vision beyond the thickness of your wallet.

  • The water towers have now been removed.Preparations appear to be underway to attack the roof.
  • Here are pics of the new building. Mix use building, residential and community facility.10 story over cellar, approximately 110,000 sf and 114 residences.
  • Condo or rental?
  • edited July 2014
    naturegirlbk-I tracked the renderings dmiami posted to the website of Issac Stern.   Sadly, the site does not state what kind of apartments they will be.

    Moving on, I do like that the side that faces Lincoln will resemble the look and scale of the existing "white" row houses to the right. Only the actual corner of Bedford and Lincoln is "big and blocky"
  • Since the last time I walked by, they have begun removing the roof of the former theater. The arched steel beams that held up the roof are now visible.I would have taken a photo, but it was too dark out to get a good shot.
  • The exposed beams can be seen in the middle of this photo:
  • I took some better photos today. Looking from Lincoln:On Bedford, looking up the hill:
  • edited October 2014
    The roof has now mostly been removed, and the steel that used to support the roof is now being removed.

    Now that weather is getting better and the roof is disappearing, they can utilize laborers to start removing the thousands of bricks that were used to make the side walls.


    This development is one of big developments happening in western Crown Heights that I watch closely. 

  • 20140225_161323
    Walls are coming down.
  • edited May 2014
    I suspect they are using what was the inside of the theater as a giant catch basin for all of the bricks, and will begin hauling it away in a few weeks.
  • Apparently DOB is not happy with how they are going about demolition. DOB stopped work until they braced the wall along Bedford, and now wants them to describe how they will safely take down said wall before work can resume:

    As a result, all is quiet at the site. ...and somewhere an engineer or architect is staying up late and billing lots of hours, writing up said plan.
  • edited May 2014
    Work resumed at the site today, and workers were nice enough to let me take some photos of the interior. The excavator is in front of what was the stage:

  • edited May 2014
    View of sky from inside


    I will add more later.
  • edited May 2014
    This is the wall that runs along Bedford, which would have been behind customers' backs as they watched the movie:


    This was the Northern wall of the theater, which is adjacent to the Haitian Daycare center: 

  • I am interested in learning more about the deal the developer struck with the church.

    So far, I have heard than in exchange for the low price for the land, the developer agreed to give the church space to worship in the new building, as well as some apartments that it would have a long term lease on. The apartments would be used for members, and their families.

    How large is the church space?
    How many apartments?
    Are there income min and maxs for the apartments?
    Who deems a family eligible? The pastor?
  • I'm not so sure I would like a church gathering in my residential building every week, even multiple times per week. This deal seems so odd...and I bet that the person assigning apartments is not exactly going to be making sure they go to the deserving families. I'm thinking this is an opportunity for excessive nepotism and favoritism. Then again, I am a cynic and a nihilist and I think Game of Thrones tells us the truth about human nature. Maybe this church will prove me wrong when this building is ready and there is a transparent process regarding which church families get apartments in the new building.
  • I hope the Pastor hired a really good attorney, so that whatever deal was struck is enforcible.

    If he didn't, he does not stand a chance of becoming Bishop Nepotistic.
  • The demolition workers have been very busy:

  • For a while, one can see a lot of sky from the BP gas station sidewalk:

  • All that now remains is the about half of the wall along Bedford. It looks like, the developers could have a clean site by Mid Sept.

    They can spend the winter creating the foundation. Steel could begin to rise in the Spring
  • edited September 2014
    The remaining bits of the front wall look like they could be removed this week, making demolition complete.

    At this point, an aerial shot of the site taken from one of the surrounding buildings would be nice.   Do any readers have such a connection?
  • I peripherally know someone who lives in the building next to the demolition.  I can try and put in a word to them and ask if they can get to their roof to take a picture.  The options are limited around there.  You may have the best luck swinging by around closing time and asking one of the construction guys.
  • I want to replicate this angle:

    But I'll need some elevation to look over the plywood fence.    The second floor of what used to be Henry House would be ideal. 
  • Oh. I can't help you there. You need someone at the eye and kidney center or maybe the medgar e. building. Maybe you could appeal to them on a historical basis.
  • edited September 2014
    Or just a tallish ladder judging by the angle.
  • These are good enough

  • Interior shots of the demo. One of the construction men said the walls were flimsy and unsafe. That if they hadn't taken the building down it would have come down on it's own.
  • edited September 2014
    Posting pictures are not working for me right now.  
  • edited September 2014
    From Tate-

    What is left of the marquee and lobby:

    The view from the Lincoln entrance to the site:
  • Today, only piles of bricks and debris remain. Gone.

  • Ha.  You beat me to the picture Whynot.  I got the same ones as I went to work today.
  • Next stage: Dig a really big hole.
  • I'm not so sure I would like a church gathering in my residential building every week, even multiple times per week. This deal seems so odd...and I bet that the person assigning apartments is not exactly going to be making sure they go to the deserving families. I'm thinking this is an opportunity for excessive nepotism and favoritism. Then again, I am a cynic and a nihilist and I think Game of Thrones tells us the truth about human nature. Maybe this church will prove me wrong when this building is ready and there is a transparent process regarding which church families get apartments in the new building.
    My experience from my mis-spent youth is that church related housing traditionally goes to one of four types of people: 1) Housing for the clergy and their families (pastor, assistant pastor); 2) Housing for the handyman or secretary who is essentially needed to be on call 24 hrs to deal with any physical plant issues and tend to live in or close to the church so there is always someone to respond (they make sure the heat/ac is on early Sunday morning, open and close the space for groups that meet mid-week like the choir, youth groups, prayer ministry, scouts, band, etc); 3) Emergency housing for church members (it's medium term (6 mos to 1 year) housing for people that may have lost their home and need a place to get back on their feet while they find another home) or 4) low-cost housing for elderly church members.

    These types of deals (property owner selling to a developer in exchange for dedicated space in the new building aren't new (think BPL's deal in Brooklyn Heights or the proposed Junior's deal), but I don't know that I've seen one for a church recently.

  • I haven't gotten a chance to look over the construction fence lately, but given the developer's progress on the building they are also constructing nearby on St. Marks, it would not surprise me if they are already digging out the foundation.

    Here's the quick work they are doing nearby:
  • Nope.  No progress.  It's been sitting empty except for a stack of pipes, backhoe, and one or two other pieces of equipment.  The dirt floor has been sitting there for a while though.
  • On Friday they dug about 5 holes in the ground, evenly spaced from each other.  Then they spent the later part of the day filling the holes back in with the debris and bricks and packing the ground back down.  The foreman appeared to be back on the job as well.
  • Going forward, I doubt many readers will want to read through this demolition thread, so I am going to ask that it be closed.

    This thread tracks the construction of the new building:
This discussion has been closed.