Today’s news:

RKO owner paying back tax man

The owners of the RKO Keith's Theatre in downtown Flushing still owe back taxes to the city.
TimesLedger Newspapers

The owner of the crumbling RKO Keith’s Theatre in downtown Flushing still owes more than $380,000 in unpaid back taxes and entered into a payment plan earlier this year to prevent the city from putting a lien on the property.

Developer Patrick Thompson is seeking to build a 16-story, mixed-use building around the landmarked lobby of the historic theater, at 135-35 Northern Blvd., and is trying to secure finances to get a shovel in the ground at the site of the $160 million project.

In March, TimesLedger Newspapers reported Thompson owed the city Department of Finance nearly $400,000 for 2011 unpaid property taxes. In April, Thompson entered into a payment plan in order to balance the books. At that time, he owed about $373,600, according to Finance.

But the most current records show Thompson still owes about $385,000 — which is actually $11,500 more than the initial balance when he entered into the agreement, according to department records.

“He’s on the way to paying it,” said Michael Nussbaum, spokesman for Thompson.

According to the department, if the developer had not entered into a payment plan before May 17, the city would have placed the property on its tax lien sale list, meaning that a third party could have potentially taken possession of the land.

Not only does Thompson need to fork over installments to chip away at the outstanding balance, he also needs to pay taxes for this current year. In total, if he were to pay off everything he owes for the payment plan and his current taxes for the rest of the year, the developer would be required to write a check for roughly $500,000 to the city, records show. That is more than double the yearly property tax value of the parcel.

The hefty bill comes at a time when the community is questioning the theater’s fate, since Thompson received all the required approvals to start building in May, but still does not have enough funding to start construction.

“We’re still proceeding with the financing, and they are still proceeding to get the thing done,” Nussbaum said of the project, adding that there has long been an unnamed developer Thompson has partnered with for the project.

The most recent approval from the Federal Aviation Administration is valid until October 2013. If Thompson does not start building by then, the FAA will have to go through another review process to determine if the proposal poses a threat to aviation, since the structure lies in the glide path of LaGuardia Airport.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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