Sunshine Cinema, 139 East Houston St.
The new owners of the building housing the Sunshine Cinema have just filed for demolition of the three story structure, parts of which date back 180 years.
In May, it became known that East End Capital and K Property Group purchased the property from Steven Goldman for $31.5 million. At the time, they talked about booting the theater and renovating/enlarging the building. The developers envisioned ground floor retail with offices on the upper floors.
A demolition application was filed with the Department of Buildings yesterday. It’s a pre-application, calling for “a full demolition of a 3-story commercial building.” The owner representative listed is Adam Pogoda of East End Capital. This is what the company says about the project on it website:
Currently home to the Sunshine Theater, whose lease expires in early 2018, East End is planning to re-develop the building into a mixed-use retail and office project. While pursuing tenants interested in utilizing the structure in its current form, work is also underway for a new, best-in-class office building with retail at the base – a first in the rapidly evolving Lower East Side. 139 East Houston will offer cutting-edge design from Roger Ferris Architecture, huge windows with expansive views, high ceilings and column-free efficient space – all on top of a subway stop in a unique and exciting location. Ground breaking is expected in the second quarter of 2018.
The current building is about 30,000 square feet and there are an additional 20,000 square feet of development rights.
The art house cinema, in an historic 1898 building, was opened in 2001 by the Landmark Theatre chain. Portions of the structure reportedly date to 1838, when the German evangelical mission was based there. It then became the Houston Athletic Center (1908) and the Houston Hippodrome (1909). Landmark Theatres spent $12 million on the 2001 restoration.
The Hippodrome was a venue for Yiddish vaudeville acts. According to Cinema Treasures, the property changed hands in 1917 and it was renamed the Sunshine, before becoming the Chopein Theatre in the 1930s. After closing in 1945, the building was used for storage.
The building is not protected as a city landmark because it has been so significantly altered over time.