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Nitehawk Cinema to Replace Pavilion Theater as Developer Drops Condo Plan

By Leslie Albrecht | September 7, 2016 7:56am | Updated on September 7, 2016 12:14pm
 The Pavilion theater on Prospect Park West at Bartel-Pritchard Square in Park Slope.
The Pavilion theater on Prospect Park West at Bartel-Pritchard Square in Park Slope.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

PARK SLOPE — Developer Hidrock Realty has sold the Pavilion Theater and dropped a controversial plan to build condos there, and Williamsburg's Nitehawk Cinema will take over the movie house, the developer announced Tuesday.

Nitehawk will open a seven-screen, 650-seat theater, to be called Nitehawk Prospect Park, in 2017, Nitehawk owner Matthew Viragh told DNAinfo New York on Wednesday.

"It’s a sleeping giant," Viragh said of the 1928 theater building. "It's a beautiful old theater right on the park. It's a neighborhood theater and that's really what intrigues us about it. That's what we pride ourselves on, is catering to the community."

The Pavilion will close at the end of October, Viragh said. He hopes to start construction as soon as possible on a complete renovation and modernization of the space that will brighten and freshen up the rundown building.

Nitehawk will add elevators and restore the windowed second floor area as well as the vintage marquee. Nitehawk is also considering putting a sidewalk cafe outside the building, similar to its Williamsburg location, Viragh said.

Though the Pavilion is infamous among Park Slopers for its rundown condition, spotty heating and cooling system and bedbug scares, the theater attracts customers from across the borough who line up for blockbusters.

Viragh said the revamped version of the theater will continue to screen Hollywood releases as well as independent films. Like its Williamsburg location, Nitehawk Prospect Park will have regular daytime screenings for parents with babies, Viragh said. The Park Slope outpost of Nitehawk will have a similar food and beverage program to the Williamsburg location, Viragh said.

A group of investors assembled by Viragh bought the property for $28 million from Hidrock, Viragh said. Nitehawk has a long-term lease on the building and will be the sole tenant, Viragh said.

Hidrock purchased the property in 2006 for $16 million, according to a statement from the developer.

As DNAinfo first reported last year, Nitehawk has long eyed the Pavilion building, which has been a theater on Bartel-Pritchard Square for nearly a century.

"It's been somewhat neglected, but I've always thought if we could get a hold of it we could do great things," Viragh told DNAinfo in 2015.

Hidrock has dropped its plans to build condos atop the Pavilion and on the property next door, but still owns the property next to the theater at 192 Prospect Park West, the company said in a statement. The developer "has no immediate plans" to build on that land, the company said in a statement.

Hidrock's plans to build high-end condos above the theater and next door didn't go over well with locals, who said the proposed buildings didn't blend in well with historic Park Slope.

Hidrock had planned to build 24 condos and a 16-car garage at the site. The developer had proposed tearing down a vacant restaurant next door to the theater at 192 Prospect Park West and replacing it with a five-story condo building. Hidrock also wanted to add a floor to the Pavilion building and put residences above the theater.

Local residents criticized the proposed development as out-of-character in historic Park Slope, calling it a potential "disaster."  The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the plans in October 2015 after Hidrock tweaked the designs in response to community concerns.

The New York Times first reported the news that Nitehawk will take over the Pavilion.

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