Abandoned Art Deco gem Metro Theater to return to the UWS as multi-screen cinema

March 23, 2022

Photo by Enniferj on Wikimedia

An 89-year-old Art-Deco movie theater that has sat vacant on the Upper West Side for years has finally been purchased and will be restored to its former glory. The landmarked Metro Theater, abandoned since 2005, was purchased by an unidentified buyer from California who intends to change it into a restaurant theater in which patrons can purchase food and drinks while enjoying their movies, previous owner Albert Bialek told the West Side Rag. The space will also offer restaurant facilities and community meeting rooms on a rental basis.

Photo by Eden, Janine, and Jim on Flickr

Originally called the Midtown Theater, the 10,260 square-foot building was constructed in 1933. Designed by Russell M. Boak and Hyman Paris, its architecture boasts Art-Deco features, like “vertical emphasis, multi-colored materials, patterned brick, and terracotta ornament based on abstract forms,” according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which designated the theater a city landmark in 1989.

The building is characterized by its 50-foot wide Art Deco facade and metal marquee that hang on the east side of Broadway between 99th and 100th Streets.

The space was almost purchased numerous times since it was gutted in 2005, with movie chain Alamo Drafthouse almost purchasing the property before backing out of the deal in 2013. According to Yimby, since its establishment, the space has housed an art-house cinema, two national movie chains, and a pornography theater.” Buyers that once considered purchasing the space include Planet Fitness and Urban Outfitters.

“Big news for lovers of one of NYC’s most beloved abandoned theaters. The Metro, an art deco gem on Broadway & 99th St, is set to reopen as a boutique multi-screen movie theater. The empty space has almost been purchased numerous times throughout the years, but no buyer had ever finalized a deal,” Mark D. Levine, Manhattan Borough President, tweeted on Monday.

This is welcoming news to the Friends of Metro Theater, a group that has been advocating for the restoration of the theater since the start of the pandemic. As many shops and restaurants were forced to close, the group petitioned for the purchase of the vacant building which could then be restored to revitalize the community.

There is no estimated completion date for the project, and permits are still being prepared so the renovation work can begin.

Levine added in another tweet: “For those who are skeptical after many years of countless failed plans at the Metro…I have spoken directly to the company opening this new venue. This is real. It’s happening.”


Explore NYC Virtually

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *