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Queens Chronicle

Roll credits: Forest Hills theater closes

PM Pediatrics care center to replace the United Artists Brandon Cinemas

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Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 10:57 am, Thu May 1, 2014.

Instead of catching the summer’s biggest Hollywood blockbuster at the United Artists Brandon Cinemas, residents who catch a bad cold will be frequenting the location from now on.

After a 51-year run as one of the area’s more popular movie theaters, UA Brandon Cinemas, a Regal Entertainment Group theater at 70-20 Austin St. in Forest Hills, closed its doors for good on Sunday.

The landlord, Heskel Elias, of The Heskel Group, terminated the venue’s lease to make way for a PM Pediatrics urgent medical care location, slated to open in September.

Elias purchased the theater in 1975, and despite the venue’s lengthy run, he said the medical facility would be a better option for the site financially.

“Obviously the Brandon has been more of an artsy type of theater,” Elias said. “Looking at all the financials, my conclusion was to turn that space into a medical care facility.”

Nearly 40 years after “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” became the first film shown after Elias’ purchase, the final flick to roll Sunday was the 7:40 p.m. showing of “Disco Singh,” a Bollywood musical.

Regal Entertainment Group Vice President of Marketing Russ Nunley expects a boost in business at the United Artists Midway Theater just two blocks away at 108-22 Queens Blvd.

“Our business at the Midway remains very strong,” Nunley said. “We thank our patrons and are happy to say that we will still proudly serve them at the Midway and be a part of this great neighborhood.”

However, some area leaders aren’t looking at the closing of the theater with such a positive spin.

Community Board 6 Chairman Joe Hennessy says he is upset over the Austin Street entity closing up shop.

“It’s just another business closing on Austin Street,” Hennessy said. “It’s disappointing when a business like that closes in the community.”

Like Hennessy, community activist Michael Perlman laments the loss of another area business, calling it “shameful.”

He believes a medical center, the third such facility in the immediate area, is exactly the wrong kind of business the area should be teeming with.

“Austin Street needs quality small businesses consisting of shops and restaurants, not ‘medical center row,’” Perlman said. “It’s a matter of what will we lose next?”

Little time is being wasted in getting the theater out of the new building.

On Monday, a packed U-Haul truck was parked outside the building, with workers cramming a few final small objects into the back of the vehicle.

On Tuesday, the truck was again parked outside, picking up any remaining items.

Elias expects about 20 permanent jobs will be created with the opening of PM Pediatrics and the renovation of the site to cost “a couple million” dollars, with rooftop parking to be provided as well. He sees the addition of the care center to be a positive for the neighborhood, not a negative as Perlman and Hennessy suggest.

“It’s going to be something fantastic,” Elias said. “You have to reposition yourself and make better use of the property. This will be more profitable for us. To me, it’s exciting.”

Welcome to the discussion.