Landmarks commission tells Pavilion Theater developer to go back to the drafting board

Box office flop! City gives Pavilion Theater development the thumbs down

Cut!: The city’s landmarks commission rejected this condo-conversion plan for Park Slope’s historic Pavilion Theater.
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It was an ornamental block.

The city’s landmarks commission shot down a developer’s proposal to affix a five-story condo building to Park Slope’s historic Pavilion Theater because officials said the new structure is too conspicuous, while its cornice — the decorative railing around the top of the roof — was not flashy enough.

“It needs to have a cornice that really says something,” said commissioner Michael Devonshire, whose concerns were shared by many of the Park Slopers and preservationists who railed against the design at a public hearing on Tuesday.

Owner Hidrock Realty wants to totally renovate the theater — which currently houses a seven-screen cinema — erect a five-story structure next door, and fit out the two lots with 24 condominiums, a smaller four-screen cinema, retail stores on the ground floor, and a glass penthouse on the roof.

But the building, at the corner of Prospect Park West and 14th Street, is part of the Prospect Park historic district, which means the developer needs the city’s okay to make any changes.

Commission chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said that she applauds the real-estate company’s efforts to preserve the 87-year-old theater, but its architect needs to go back to the drafting board and come up with a design that takes Slopers’ concerns into account.

Neighbors told the panel that the proposed five-story addition and the glass and steel penthouse on top would overwhelm the original four-story building, the placement of its new windows don’t match those of neighboring properties, and its cornice — which curves out from the top of the building like a cresting wave — does not live up the more ornate rooftop flourish along the rest of the street.

Some felt the proposed parapet was not even worthy of the title “cornice.”

“It’s more of an optical illusion than a cornice,” said Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community Board 6, which encompasses Park Slope. The community board unanimously approved Hidrock’s proposal in late July, though it too asked the developer to make the new structure more subdued so it doesn’t steal attention from the theater.

Some residents demanded the developer lop off the fifth floor from its planned building to bring it more into line with the rest of the street, but Srinivasan said she was confident Morris Adjmi Architects could come up with a more restrained design that had the same effect.

A spokesman for Hidrock said losing the fifth floor would kill the project altogether, because the company already took an economic hit by preserving the theater instead of replacing it with more lucrative retail space, but that it will seriously consider the concerns of both community members and commissioners when redesigning the structure.

“The suggestions that were constructive, I’m sure Hidrock will carefully consider,” said publicist Ethan Geto.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to clarify the decision and Geto's comments.
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Reasonable discourse

whooelse from knowhere says:
Good!! Tited of looking at those ugly & expensive wastes of space invading bk.
Aug. 19, 2015, 7:54 am
Sarc says:
How dare they even suggest such a simple parapet. Next thing you know, architects will design unflashy cornices in buildings. After that comes anarchy
Aug. 19, 2015, 9:36 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Why doesn't the landmarks commission do something to encourage buildings around the city to maintain and retain their existing cornices? In all areas, not just landmarked areas? The buildings usually look horrid when they are removed. It is rare that some kind of brick work is done that makes it look halfway decent.
Aug. 19, 2015, 9:44 am
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
So this design is *both* not restrained enough and not flashy enough?

The building should be tall, but appear short. The developers need to integrate something into the design so the subway riders underground can appreciate the flashy, yet not distracting cornice. Perhaps a series of mirrors or a CCTV system underground.

Maybe the Landmark Commission should just become an architectural firm since NOTHING seems to pass their personal taste meter. And that is exactly what this is... personal taste and whims.

Have they even looked at what is currently there?!

The theater was INTENDED to have a building covering up its entire south side.

What *exactly* are they trying to preserve with this "no"? Hmmm? It's infuriating. I have no dog in this fight other than idiot busybodies that meddle. A landmark/preservation protocol is a GOOD thing for any city ... but whiny, unprincipled decisions like this expose it for what it has become. And is harmful for future issues that really do need a strong LPC intervention.

Maybe they should stop worrying about the ego trip b*ners they get from saying no to projects like this and the Green-wood Cemetery Greenhouse... and maybe focus on making sure homeowners can't change their porch light without an architectural rendering. :-/
Aug. 19, 2015, 10:08 am
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
By the way -- the decorative 'cornice' on this design is the stripe above the 4th floor. Not the 'optical illusion' curve at the top. Ya know, the one that lines up with the neighboring building.

If the design didn't have the intermediate detail between 4 and 5 and had a big ornate cornice on the top of the 5th floor... there would be the EXACT same whining. Basically, it seems that the LPC board members just get off on making property owners spend massive amounts of money on architectural drawings. Has ANY design every been approved by the LPC without at least 4 full revisions of the cosmetic design? (Perhaps they are getting kickbacks from the architects.)
Aug. 19, 2015, 10:16 am
too much... from Brooklyn says:
Too much development, too many people.

Aug. 19, 2015, 11 am
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
I know, right? Imagine placing an apartment building immediately above a subway station and adjacent to a retail/business area? That's just crazy...
Aug. 19, 2015, 11:15 am
Too little... says:
The best way to keep housing pricing low and stop densification is to not build. Ask Silicon Valley. They did that and have some of the lowest housing prices in the country. And the fact that they didn't build up has ended the demand that people have to live in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.
Aug. 19, 2015, 12:30 pm
whooelse from knowhere says:
I just dont understand the utter ignorance some of these developers have. We've got 60,000 homeless people & rising in the city but yet these fools & others alike wanna build more lux housing. You just cant make this stuff up.
Aug. 19, 2015, 1:20 pm
Stop whining says:
Well, you can either pay for services for the poor with Monopoly Money or you can increase your tax base by luring wealthy residents from LI and NJ with high end housing. So in fact building luxury housing is essential to aiding those most in need. Having worked at a homeless shelter in NYC, I can attest that although the city's services are far from perfect and much more can be done, it far exceeds those of most American cities. All homeless individuals in NYC are legally entitled to a shelter. The fact that the city can afford that is due in large part to the millionaires pouring money into the municipality.
Aug. 19, 2015, 3:38 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
Design by consensus. Yikes.
Aug. 19, 2015, 7:03 pm
John from Newirk Plaza says:
Dull, underweening design. And the Pavilion is "historic" because it is 87 years old?
Aug. 20, 2015, 1:53 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Landmark status on buildings and geographic areas can increase property values for all homeowners in the area. The developer should do it right and do it well, as the landmark commission makes the determination for this building/area in this old city. And for the developer to state they would not make enough profit if they take the 5th floor off is ubsurd. Of course they will make money, just not the money of their dreams.
Aug. 20, 2015, 8:35 am
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
So Charles... you have direct access to the whims and fancies of the landmark commission board members so a property owner can "do it right and do it well"?

If the developer submitted a design with all of the "flourishes" the adjacent curved building has... or the 4 counter-clockwise on the circle... Do you think they would have green lighted it? Or, more likely, they would have come up with some other whiny, unprincipled "concern" that no one in their right mind could anticipate. 4 or 5 revisions later, the board will finally OK some design that will not be substantially different from any of the other revisions...

By the way -- these other buildings on the circle are SERIOUSLY boring. Oh, yeah, their cornices are just amazing!! Oh lord! i can barely contain myself.
Aug. 20, 2015, 10:08 am
Joey from WT says:
WAAAA. If you don't like it, stop waiting for your Mother to kick the bucket so you can sell the house. You can still visit Farrell's for now anyway.

Social Services are paid for by your tax dollars. The money has to come from somewhere.
Aug. 20, 2015, 3:43 pm

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