It’s an announcement we’ve been expecting for a few years and one that many neighborhood residents have been dreading. The New York Post reported this afternoon that the building housing the Sunshine Cinema has been sold. The theater will close in January of next year.
The building at 139 East Houston St. is being snatched up by East End Capital and K Property Group for $31.5 million. After booting the theater, they’ll renovate the historic building to accommodate ground floor retail and offices upstairs. The building currently covers 30,000 square feet and there are 20,000 square feet in unused development rights. More from Lois Weiss’s story:
East End’s Jonathon Yormak and David Peretz are very bullish on the Lower East Side – even if they aren’t bullish on movie theaters. “We see the transition from bar and nightlife area to a live/work environment,” Yormak explained of their purchase.Added Rod Kritsberg of K Property, “We are excited about adding to the neighborhood’s rich culture and bright future.”
Back in 2015, reports first surfaced that property owner Steven Goldman was trying to unload the building fore more than $35 million.
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 for decades.
The building is not protected as a city landmark.