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1560 Broadway (bet. 46th and 47th Streets), Embassy Theater, application for modification and restoration

At the scheduled monthly meeting of Community Board Five on Thursday, July 11, 2013, the Board passed the following resolution by a vote of 38 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, The owners of 1560 Broadway (bet. 46th and 47th Streets), have filed an application with LPC for modification and restoration of portions of the Embassy Theater, an Interior Landmark, Designated November 17, 1987, located on the first floor of the building; and

WHEREAS, The Embassy Theatre, located on the East side of Broadway in Times Square, was an experiment by Loew's, Inc., which conceived an elegant and intimate 556-seat theatre that would attract an exclusive high-society audience; and

WHEREAS, The Theater was designed by Thomas W. Lamb, a prominent architect and designer of over 300 theaters and movie palaces in  20th Century United States,  as well as the Landmarked Paramount Hotel, also in CB5; and

WHEREAS, The Theater was decorated by the Rambusch Studio, an outstanding NYC design and lighting company and the ornate French-inspired interior featured elaborate plasterwork and murals by the Canadian painter, Arthur Crisp; and

WHEREAS, Furthering its salon-like appeal, the Embassy was the first movie house on Broadway to employ a woman manager, the heiress Gloria Gould, and it had the distinction of being operated almost exclusively by women; and

WHEREAS, Beginning with its gala opening on August 26, 1925, the Embassy was a reserved-seat showcase for some of the major MGM releases; and

WHEREAS, After four years, Loew's took over the nearby Mayfair and Criterion theatres, and the Embassy was acquired by Guild Enterprises on November 1, 1929; and

WHEREAS, The Embassy reopened as the first theater in the United States to have an all-newsreel format; and

WHEREAS, In 1949, when the appeal of old-style theatrical newsreels and screen magazines waned with the onset of television news, and with its small audience shrinking, the Embassy once again became a first-run movie theatrer, showing feature films from Hollywood and the occasional foreign film; and

WHEREAS, After the Embassy closed in 1997, the theatre was renovated and reopened in 1998 as the Times Square Visitors Center with most of its interior features still intact; and

WHEREAS, The current owners propose major changes to this remarkable space to capitalize on the potential for retail leasing in the lower level of the building, including an intrusive escalator in the outer lobby to provide access to the basement, and reconfiguring the inner lobby and rear wall of the theater; and

WHEREAS, While some of the proposed modifications and renovations are not deemed objectionable, the overall effect of the plan would significantly alter the character of the landmarked Interior and is not deemed warranted when there are alternative, undesignated locations in the building for providing basement access; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends Denial of the Application for 1560 Broadway (bet. 46th and 47th Streets), for modification and restoration of the Embassy Theater.

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