saved the Alpine theater?
The Alpine Cinema has been saved — now, who gets the credit?
Two Bay Ridge lawmakers — who have been rivals for more than a decade
— held bizarre back-to-back press conferences this week to crow about
their roles in finding a buyer for the last moviehouse in a neighborhood
that once had a half-dozen.
First up was City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge). The credibility
of his event — bright and early at 9:30 am on Tuesday — was
bolstered by the appearance of Borough President Markowitz, Community
Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, congressional candidate
Steve Harrison, Fifth Avenue Board of Trade board member Jim Clark, and
Tim King, the Massey-Knakal real estate broker who sold the building.
“The Alpine has been saved!” Gentile cheered, brandishing 2,300
petition signatures that, he claimed, helped persuade owner Jeffrey Deneroff
to commit to finding a buyer who would maintain the 85-year-old Alpine
as a cinema.
Gentile said the new owner, Nicolas Nicolaou, would take over in July,
and transform the Alpine from a weak link in the national AMC chain into
an independent cinema. There will also be long-overdue renovations, Gentile
Nicolaou owns an independent theater on the Upper East Side of Manhattan
and the Cinemart in Forest Hills.
King refused to say how much Nicolaou paid for the building, which had
an asking price last year of $10 million. A source close to the deal did
tell The Brooklyn Papers that Nicolaou paid between $6 and $7 million.
Three hours later, state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge) presented his
half of the double-feature with some of the same co-stars — King,
Beckmann and Clark — but no Markowitz.
Golden said his office “worked incredible man-hours” to convince
state regulators to expand the boundaries of an Empire Zone in Sunset
Park to include the cinema, which is at Fifth Avenue and 68th Street.
If such an expansion of the zone goes through, the Alpine would become
eligible for a long list of tax credits and energy cost abatements.
Golden also mentioned renovations that Nicolaou will make — plus
converting some currently unused space into a community theater.
And Golden’s press conference did have Basil Capetanakis, president
of the Fifth Avenue Board of Trade, who has been credited by both sides
for finding Nicolaou and hooking him up with Deneroff.
“Basil made the shidduch,” Markowitz had said earlier, employing
the Yiddish word for arranged marriage.
But the language of this deal was probably Greek.
“I found him in Greek circles,” Capetanakis told The Brooklyn
Papers. “I asked around for recommendations and when I met him, we
hit it off from the start. He is Greek, so maybe that helped with the
But Capetanakis said what most impressed Nicolaou was local coverage of
the Alpine saga. “He read the papers and said, ‘I can’t
believe how much the community loves this theater. I have a theater in
Forest Hills, but they could care less what I do.’ That sealed the
deal for us.”
Capetanakis said that the best thing about the deal is that Nicolaou is
not an absentee landlord.
“Usually, someone buys the building and hires an operator,”
he said. “But this guy loves the movie business.”
For his part, Golden sniffed at his rival’s role in keeping the Alpine
“This took more than just signatures on petitions,” he said.
“We put all the minds together.”
Reporters had asked Gentile what role Golden had played, but the councilman
merely threw up his hands and said, “I don’t know.”
Neither press conference had the man of the hour, Nicolaou, who was said
to be in Cyprus.
“But when he gets back, we’ll give him a big Bay Ridge welcome,”
The battle between Bay Ridge powerhouses — Golden, a former city
councilman who went on to the state Senate, and Gentile, a former state
Senator who went on to the City Council — didn’t surprise anyone.
“It’s always like this,” said one impartial official. “But
in this case, with all due respect to Marty Golden, who is very effective
generally, he didn’t have anything to do with this deal.”
King and Capetanakis, who were in the best position to comment, refused
to weigh in on the clash of the titans.
“Personally, I don’t care,” Capetanakis said. “All
I care about is keeping Fifth Avenue alive.”
Even as everyone was claiming credit for saving the Alpine, the irony
is that the theater does make money. Its former operator, Loews, said
the Alpine had 300,000 customers last year, which is a lot for Bay Ridge,
but, apparently, not enough foot traffic to please a national chain —
especially after the Alpine’s only rival, the Fortway Cinema, closed
“The big guys don’t run these things any more,” Gentile
Markowitz said he was most pleased about the deal because of the dearth
of moviehouses in Brooklyn.
“We have 2.6 million people, but the fewest number of screens, per
capita, of any borough,” he said. “So it was important to keep
this place for family entertainment.”
Behind him were posters for the movies “Silent Hill,” “The
Sentinel” and “Scary Movie 4,” plus tamer fare such as
“The Wild” and “Ice Age 2.”
One Alpine customer said he was pleased to hear that the theater had been
saved. But now he wants more.
“How come they won’t show ‘United 93’ here?”
asked the man, who gave his name only as Jeffrey. “And how come they
never showed ‘Munich’? Is it because there’s a mosque next
door? Just asking.”
For the record, Jeffrey had bought a ticket to the horror movie “Silent
Hill” and was not happy about it..
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010