22 Sep Landmark movie theater opening marks latest business at Via 57 West
By Ivan Pereira
The curtain was raised last Friday on Manhattan’s newest movie theater — more than half a mile from the nearest subway station.
The Landmark at 57 West is the latest business to set up shop at the Durst Organization’s Via 57 West mixed-use “superblock” at West 57th Street and Twelfth Avenue, and experts say its opening stands as a milestone moment for an area best known for car dealerships, industrial spaces and tourists making their way to the Hudson River.
Although the theater is in a transit desert and surrounded mostly by offices, Gary Malin, president of real estate group Citi Habitats, said it will have drawing power.
“It’s more than just a movie theater, it’s a social experience,” Malin said. “You’ll be drawing more people into that neighborhood to discover it as well.”
The 30,000-square-foot, eight-screen cineplex from Landmark Theaters features a bar for pre- and post-show drinks, reclining chairs and a concession stand with gourmet goodies like Two Boots Pizza and Sugar and Plumm Macarons.
“It’s like a cool art house with style,” said Madelyn Hammond, spokeswoman for the California-based chain. “We really wanted to revitalize the area.”
Some of the theaters have full reclining seats and the entire cineplex has a built-in acoustics system called “Hearing Loop” that allows viewers with aural issues to watch a film safely without any additional devices, according to Hammond.
Hammond said the owners also wanted the cineplex to be a film destination — welcoming schools, filmmakers and studios to use the theater’s green room and bar and the superblock’s parking garage for premieres and other events.
“We want this to be a venue for anyone to use for a film screening and feel like it’s grand,” she said.
Hammond said the theater’s distance from the nearest subway wouldn’t be an issue, since the superblock has already had an influx of new residents.
Malin drew a comparison with Battery Park City over the past few decades, as that area’s now-vibrant scene started off with a few blocks of residential buildings inside a densely commercial zone.
“More retailers come and that’s how you build out the community,” Malin said. “Soon more developers, and more renters, want to come.”
He added that the West 57th Street superblock, which has been in development since 2001, is gaining familiarity with New Yorkers.
The Durst Organization initially aimed to develop the area solely into office space, but changed the plans in 2004 to mixed use and received approval for a zoning change. A year later, the 38-story, 571-unit residential tower The Helena opened on the superblock.
In 2012, the developer announced plans for two more towers that were mixed use, the 753-unit Via Building and the 10-story Frank Building.
Malin predicted the area will continue to see more interest from residents and retailers in the near future.
“Sometimes, it’s not just about whole neighborhoods,” he said. “In the end, people are drawn to certain buildings and certain locations.”
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