HARLEM, NY - A West Harlem community board is asking the public to 

weigh in about what should be done with a historic but decaying old movie

palace that two competing developers want to remake into an affordable housing

comple warehouse,x.

The 1,857v-seat RKO Hamilton Theater on Broadway and 146th Street 

showed its last movie in 1958. Since then, it has hosted an evangelical church

and served as a boxing ring, a disco and a refrigerator warehouse, acording to

a 2013 Daily News article, but eventually fell into direpair.

While the theater's ornate terra cotta exterior on Broadway is landmarked,

the interior is not, and developers Brisa Omni New York and Brisa Builders

are both seeking to build on the site while preserving some of its historic


Omni and Brisa both pledge to build hundreds of affordable units on the site,

as well as a new arts center to maintain the theater's heritage.

The companies presented their plans to Community Board 9 in July. 

The board is now asking neighbors to fill out a poll by Sept. 30, indicating

which plan they prefer. The proposal by Omni, a Manhattan-based 

developer specializing in affordable housin, would build two new 14-story

buildings on the site, including up to 200 new aprartments for families making 

between 30 and 110 percent of the area's median income. Omni decided 

against trying to rehabilitate the theater space after finding it would cost as 

much as $50 milion, presenters said,. Instead, they would preserve elements

including the theater's fabric wallpaper, stair railings and light fixtures to be

used in the new building.

Omni is proposing to build an "entertainment hub" focused on theater, dance

and the performing arts - including a 200-seat theater that would be managed 

by Diana Byer, founder of the New York Theatre Ballet.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn-based Brissa's proposal cals for a new 18-story tower

and another 10-story building built on the vacant lot at the north end of the

site. The would house a combined 250 new affordable aprtments. Brisa

is proposing a 20,000-square-foot community arts facility, including

a brick bos theatre to be built inside the shell of the existing theater.

More information about the proposals is available at Community Board

9's website, or watch each developer's presentation at the July 13

meeting below (Omni's starts around the 8 minute mark, while Brisa's

begins around 52:30).