By Gregg McQueen
Put it in the books.
After several months of speculation, local Councilmember Ydanis Rodríguez announced he would back a landmark designation for the historic United Palace in Washington Heights.
Built in 1930 as movie palace Loew’s 175th Street Theatre, the Thomas Lamb-designed venue had been used mostly as a church since 1969, and in recent years has presented concerts, films and community-based arts programming.
In December, the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) granted landmark approval for the historic building, yet United Palace owners initially opposed the designation, citing concerns about increased costs, and called on community members to back them.
And Rodríguez, whose stance on the designation would serve to influence an upcoming City Council vote on the matter, had hesitated to divulge an official posture on LPC’s approval, stating that he wanted to take in various opinions on the landmarking.
But standing with community board members, theater officials and local preservation activists inside United Palace on March 22, Rodriguez confirmed his support.
“I am proud that Northern Manhattan will finally gain another New York City landmark,” said Rodríguez, who explained that his decision was reached after meetings with the LPC, theater owners and community stakeholders.
“The owners of this church were hesitant to move the designation forward, only for one reason — for the fear that the maintenance costs would rise,” said the Councilmember. “We brought everyone to the table to work out these concerns.”
“This is not my victory, this is our victory,” he added.
Rodríguez said he intended to seek funding from the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) to help support programs at the venue.