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As of last Friday, no plans had been filed for the property, at 98 – 108 Ave. A, which sits midblock between Sixth and Seventh Sts. But by early this week, according to Department of Buildings records, a description of the planned modifications had been posted.
The work would include renovating the existing two-story building, including the expansion of the cellar floor, raising the entire second floor and installing a new storefront on Avenue A. In addition, a new partial third floor and partial fourth floor for one residential unit would be added, with an adjoining roof garden on the second-floor rooftop for use by the new apartment. More than 8,000 square feet of new space would be added to the existing building. The project’s estimated total cost, as listed on the D.O.B. filing, is about $1.57 million.
In its former life, the building once housed the Hollywood movie theater.
According to Department of Finance records, the property was previously owned by Gristedes supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis, who acquired it sometime prior to 1973. He sold it in 1985 to a group of three buyers, Chong Hwa Pak, Jung Yong Suh and Sun Sok Yon. In 1986, they transferred the property to a corporation, Suh Yon Pak Associates Inc., which remains the owner of record.
EV Grieve has been following the developments of East Village Farm’s demise and what will happen to the building next. Speculation had been the structure would be torn down. This Tuesday the local blog reported that plans had been posted that day, revealing the owner’s intentions.
About a year ago — proving once again that “Ray always hears it first” — The Villager’s Scoopy’s Notebook reported that Ray, a.k.a. Asghar Ghahraman, of Ray’s Candy Store, said he had heard from the man who delivers his bread that the East Village Farm building’s owner planned to demolish it and build an enormous residential tower. However, while Ray’s information was correct that something was in the works, a high-rise building wouldn’t be allowed under the new East Village / Lower East Side rezoning that went into effect a few years ago.
Last Thursday evening, Ray reiterated, “My bread man, he go there every morning [to East Village Farm] and he told me a year ago, they gonna close — I couldn’t believe it. … It’s gonna be condominiums.”
East Village activist Chris Flash was disappointed that the long-dormant movie theater couldn’t be brought back to life as an entertainment venue in a neighborhood that has lost too many of them recently.
“I got into the theater like two weeks ago,” he said last Friday. “The guy working the store’s counter on the last week let me and a few friends go in there.”
All the cinema’s seats are still in place, he reported, adding, “There’s no need to destroy the theater. It’s totally viable to keep it as a theater.”
Flash, publisher of The Shadow local anarchist newspaper, said the market used to be named SYP.
“Some people used to call it, ‘Steal Your Paycheck,’” he quipped.
Another defunct East Village movie house, the Charles on Avenue B, also still has all its seats in place. But efforts to renovate the property by a church group that owns it stalled about two years ago after it was revealed the work was being done without the proper permits, and a stop-work order was issued. Flash had hoped to do some arts programming in that space if it had been renovated. But the church’s pastor had issues with Flash’s pitch.
“He tried to make a lot of demands on content,” Flash said. “No performing artist is going to like that.
“The real crime is we’re losing these venues,” he added. “Continental doesn’t do shows anymore, C.B.G.B.’s is defunct, and we’re about to lose two historic theaters. As the venues shrink, these two places could have had live shows and performances.”