Brooklyn’s historic Kings Theatre reopens after 38 years

The renovation of the iconic Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York is now finished, with Diana Ross set to play the revamped venue’s inaugural gig tonight.

Built in 1929, and with a 3,000-seat capacity, Kings has been lying vacant since 1977, but the completion of a $95 million restoration project, which included new sound and lighting systems, has finally seen the venue restored to its former glory.

Described as "an economic engine" for the local Flatbush neighbourhood, and the only major resource for live entertainment in the immediate area, the theatre will present more than 200 performances annually. 

It originally opened as one of the five Loew’s Wonder Theatres constructed in New York and New Jersey, and was designed by architecture firm Rapp & Rapp as an "entertainment palace" where films and vaudeville acts were presented.

ACE Theatrical Group was selected by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to operate the City-owned theatre, and has worked with NYCEDC’s HireNYC program to employ local residents and create opportunities for Flatbush and the surrounding communities. 

Following its original closure in ’77, Kings Theater was acquired by the City of New York in 1983, which subsequently performed critical structural repairs. In 2008, NYCEDC launched a competitive search for an entity to undertake a major restoration and renovation. In April 2012, the Kings Theatre Redevelopment Company – a consortium of ACE Theatrical Group, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, and the National Development Council – was chosen to lead this effort.

After tonight’s performance from the soul superstar, the venue will host a free open house with tours of the new-look structure on Saturday 7 February.

“The City’s investment in the revival of the Kings Theatre is about much more than the restoration of the beloved, historic building – it is about supporting the creation of local jobs, new traffic for area small businesses, and developing new state-of-the art space for the community to gather," said New York City deputy mayor for housing and economic development Alicia Glen. "Kings Theatre will become a destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike, and provide real community benefits in the process.”

David Anderson, president and CEO of ACE Theatrical Group, added: “The Kings Theatre is now once again an integral part of this community, after being lost to the City for so long. We are so proud to welcome New Yorkers back to the Kings and we thank the community for its incredible support of the revitalization project. It is our hope that everyone will join us as we celebrate the historic reopening and embark on the Theatre’s inaugural year of performances.”

Photo courtesy of the Kings Theatre Facebook page