There’s been construction activity at the long-vacant Metro Theater on Broadway between 99th and 100th streets, and that’s got tongues flapping.
The Metro, which opened in 1933, showed films for decades (including pornographic ones for a brief sad period) before it closed in 2005. In 2012, a Texas company called the Alamo Drafthouse said it would open a new movie theater in the space, and allow people to eat at their seats. But the chain backed away in 2013 as its costs mounted.
It’s been empty and dormant since then. But in the past couple of weeks readers have been writing in with news of activity in the space — old materials are being removed and construction workers have been working there. Earlier this week, we heard the most bombastic rumor yet:
“I just walked by the long-vacant Metro Theater on the east side of Broadway between 99 and 100 streets. Work is underway, and I asked if something is coming in. One of the workmen said Walmart. Really now! The idea of a Walmart in the Upper West Side seems utterly out of character – not sure I’m happy about it.”
A what? The worker might have been having some fun with our tipster. Wal-Mart faces very long odds at opening a new store in the city. Politicians, including Mayor de Blasio, have spoken out against the company, and it would be just about impossible for the company to quietly start construction here.
So we checked with Councilman Mark Levine, who represents the area. Levine has been anxious to get that space filled, as several potential deals to bring new retail tenants have fallen through in the past few years, both before and after the Alamo’s failed attempt.
Levine brushed off the Wal-Mart rumor but said he hears “it will be a fitness outfit. They are in final stages of lease negotiations.” But he added “though as you know many prior deals at the metro have fallen apart last minute.” In fact, fitness company Planet Fitness had been close to signing a deal just a couple of months ago — so close that tenants at the Ariel West had been notified — but that deal fell apart.