After years of disuse, the landmarked Upper West Side Metro movie theater at Broadway and 99th Street is getting close to landing a new tenant, the Times reports. And unlike the last time we talked about a potential tenant for the space—Urban Outfitters was planning to move in but legal troubles eventually meant the retailer settled in across the street—it appears that the arts will stay in the picture. So who's interested? A deal is reportedly close with the non-profit arts education group Wingspan Arts, but everyone from synagogues to AMC has been sniffing around.
Albert Bialek, who got control of the building after a long legal battle that overlapped with the aborted Urban Outfitters bid, says he has been in negotiations with Wingspan since March (they want to make it into a three-floor theater and education complex) but to be on the safe side is also entertaining other offers. But whoever moves in Bialek, who insists he wants to “maintain the integrity of this historic building,” is only willing to rent the building to a single-use commercial tenant and as such has drafted design studies and plans to "to turn the space into a four-screen cinema or a three-screen complex for live theater."
The biggest catch with the building, only the Art Deco exterior of which is landmarked, is that it doesn't have any air rights available for expansion—they were previously sold off to the massive Extell tower next to the theater. Digging out more space below the theater, however, is still an option.
The theater, originally called the Midtown, has a long history. Not only was it once a major first-run movie house but it also did its time screening adult films and as a revival house. It will always be where we saw Mortal Kombat opening day to us, but for many its brief appearance in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters is probably more memorable: