Pavilion Theater To Be Converted Into Nitehawk Prospect Park; Condo Plans ‘Scrapped’

Pavilion Theater To Be Converted Into Nitehawk Prospect Park; Condo Plans ‘Scrapped’
pavilion theater
Photo by Donny Levit / Park Slope Stoop

The Pavilion Theater on Prospect Park West will undergo a major and strikingly fast transformation which will keep the building a movie theater, the New York Times reported. And none other than the popular Nitehawk Cinema will be at the helm.

The Williamsburg-based dine-in film center will open a new mulitplex which will replace the Pavilion, a theater which has been widely criticized by moviegoers for years. The new “Nitehawk Prospect Park” will have seven movie screens with a total of 650 seats.

Nitehawk Cinema’s founder Matthew Viragh told the Times the new layout will also boast “two bar areas, a restored atrium overlooking the park, and, of course, in-theater dining.” This would be the company’s second cinema in Brooklyn.

But the stunning theater overhaul may not even be the most impressive news. According to the Times, “plans to add condominiums to the site, made before the Nitehawk entered negotiations with the building’s owners, have been scrapped.”

“The Park Slope Civic Council also deserves real credit here, for their tireless efforts to extend the Park Slope Historic District to cover the South Slope in 2012,” wrote Council Member Brad Lander in a statement released on Tuesday. “Without that extension, the theater could have been demolished entirely.”

In April 2015, developer Hidrock Realty revealed that it planned to convert The Pavilion Theater into a 6-story building with 24 condos, a subterranean 16-car garage, and 4 movie screens. The project included the replacement of a one-story restaurant, formerly Circles, facing Bartel Pritchard Square.

Neighbors, politicians, and activists expressed great concern over the plans. In August 2015, displeased members of the public packed the room at a hearing by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission [LPC] concerning further developments to the Pavilion Theater project.

While the plans were subsequently approved by the LPC in October 2015, community outcry continued.

pavilion theater renderings
Revised renderings of Pavilion Theater Project plans approved by Landmarks Preservation Committee in 2015. Those plans have now been “scrapped.” (Credit: Hidrock Realty)

Throughout the twists and turns of the potential condo project, Nitehawk remained in the background. According to the Times, Viragh approached Steven J. Hidary of Hidrock Properties about five years ago for a potential investment. Hidrock had purchased the Pavilion property in 2006 for $16 million.

In a more recent set of negotiations, Viragh and a group of investors approached Hidary with an updated plan to bring Nitehawk to the building.

A deal was struck.

The sale closed on August 26, 2016. 188 Prospect Park West L.L.C., the new investment company, paid $28 million for the property. The Times reported that Hidrock still owns the one-story site adjoining the theater, however “Mr. Hidary said that there were no current plans to build condominiums there.”

Lander’s statement echoes the report by the Times about there being no plans to build the condos, but with a caveat: “…Hidrock is not planning to build a new residential building next door, at least at this time.”

“We had to decide, do we build condos or do we save Brooklyn?” said Hidary. “So we saved Brooklyn.”

nitehawk cinema
Nitehawk Cinema at 136 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg. (Photo via anninabrandt)

Viragh said the current Pavilion will close down towards the end of October, and renovations are expected to take roughly a year with costs coming in at under $10 million. “How rare is it to save a theater in New York, and not make it into a Duane Reade or a Starbucks?” he said.

“This is a victory for community activism and partnership,” wrote Lander. “When we heard about plans to eliminate the theater, we spoke up loud and clear. Together with neighbors, we pushed to save the theater, and make sure any renovation/development respected the historic character of the neighborhood.”

“If the Nitehawk is the movie-theater equivalent of an enduringly cool kid with a man bun,” wrote the Times, “the Pavilion is more of a Miss Havisham with some questionable late-in-life cosmetic tweaks.”

Surely the neighborhood has the greatest of expectations for the future of the new complex.