Last fall, the New York Times broke the news that the landmarked Metro Theater on the Upper West Side would become a Planet Fitness. Now applications have officially been filed to convert the 1930s Art Deco theater at 2626 Broadway into retail.
The 82-year-old building has hosted an art house cinema, two national movie chains, and a pornography theater. It played movies until 2005. While neighbors and local politicians hoped a cultural non-profit would take over the space between 99th and 100th streets, the renovation simply cost more than most non-profits could afford.
Harlem Council Member Mark Levine told the Times that he was “bitterly disappointed about it.” “But having said that, I think any tenant is better than abandonment. And while it is a chain, at least it isn’t a Duane Reade.”
Texas-based movie theater chain Alamo Draft House announced plans to build a five-screen cinema in the abandoned theater in 2012. But a year later, the company backed out, saying that construction costs had risen too much since they committed to the deal.
Owner Albert Bialek also courted Urban Oufitters and considered splitting the ground floor up into several small retail spaces. But the marquee and the lack of windows make it unappealing for most retail tenants.
The interior of the building appears to have been gutted years ago. However, the pink and black marquee is still in good shape, and it features an Art Deco medallion with figures holding the masks of comedy and tragedy. Planet Fitness will hopefully fix up the facade, after they receive permission from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Stephen Cohan’s Stelco Restoration and Technology is handling the renovation. The 10,260-square-foot building has two floors and a mezzanine between them, and Planet Fitness will occupy all three levels. They inked a 15-year lease on the property in October 2015, with an option to extend for another five years.