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Developer Says He Does Not Feel Bad About Demolishing Sunshine Cinema

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The Sunshine's last days. Photo courtesy of Faust.
The Sunshine’s last days. Photo courtesy of Faust.

One of the developers who purchased the former Sunshine Cinema building says he has no qualms about demolishing the historic Lower East Side theater.

Gregory Kraut of the K Property Group spoke with Commercial Observer about his plans for the site at 141 East Houston St., among other Manhattan real estate ventures. As previously reported, the Sunshine will be knocked down to make way for a 9-story glassy office tower.

Asked if he feels bad about tearing down the Sunshine, Kraut said, “No, not at all.” The Landmark Theatre chain operated the independent film venue from 2001 until this past January. Kraut said of the Landmark team, “they were trying for years to make money and they couldn’t. The area has changed, and quite frankly, the business model didn’t, and so we gave them options to renew. They had several opportunities to buy the building.”

K Property Group and East End Capital bought the building for $30.5 million last year. They’re planning a “boutique office building” with ground floor retail. The new complex will be about 63,000 square feet, roughly twice the size of the current building. Kraut said he’s bullish on the Lower East Side retail market. The partners have been watching commercial activity in the area, and believe companies are ready to plant roots in the neighborhood.

Demolition was originally supposed to occur this month. Kraut says he now expects it to begin in a couple of months. This means you have a while longer to check out FAUST’s “Sunset” mural on the East Houston Street facade.

Portions of the theater building 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), a venue for Yiddish vaudeville acts. In 1917, it was renamed the Sunshine, before becoming the Chopein Theatre in the 1930s.


Rendering of office/retail complex replacing Sunshine Cinema at 141 East Houston St. Image by Real Estate Arts.
Rendering of office/retail complex replacing Sunshine Cinema at 141 East Houston St. Image by Real Estate Arts.
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