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Exclusive: New York’s IFC Center Plans to Expand Location, More Than Doubling Screens and Seats

Exclusive: New York's IFC Center Plans to Expand Location, More Than Doubling Screens and Seats

READ MORE: IFC Center to Celebrate Wim Wenders With ‘Portraits Along the Road’ Retrospective

New York City’s own IFC Center is expanding. Per Yimby, the five-screen theater has filed an alteration application with the Department of Buildings to expand its 6th Avenue location in a move that would double the size of the building (from 10,328 square feet to 20,071 square feet) and more than double its current five screens. The theater previously expanded from three to five screens in 2009.

The expansion will involve the removal of one existing screen, which will eventually relocate from the first floor to the cellar. The new addition to the building will feature six brand new screens, bringing the total screens to 11 and pushing the center’s current 480 seats to 940 seats. The planned expansion will also allow the center’s existing lobby space to expand, alleviating the crowds that tend to accumulate during peak showtimes and even providing enough room for parties and receptions to be held within the space.

The new plan will expand the cinema into a vacant lot behind the existing building. The lot has been a part of the IFC Center property since 1985 and is owned by Friedland Properties, who leases the property to the center, and has stood empty for eight decades. The new addition, which borders Cornelia Street, will not alter the placement of the center’s entrance, and it will remain on 6th Avenue (Cornelia Street access will, however, continue to be used as an emergency exit). 

Renderings of the new addition can be seen above and below.

Representatives from the IFC Center have been meeting with community members and elected officials in the area for the past month, and discussions will remain ongoing during the approval process. The plans will need to be approved by various bodies, including the DOB, the Community Board and the Board of Standards and Appeals before the center can begin their planned expansion. The IFC Center hopes to go before the Board of Standards and Appeals by the end of the year or early next year for final approval of their application. 

Of the news, John Vanco, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the IFC Center said, “IFC Center has spent the past ten years celebrating filmmakers from New York and around the world by showcasing their documentaries, fiction features and short films for Greenwich Village audiences hungry for the best in contemporary and classic cinema. Expanding our facility is crucially important in allowing us to continue to fill a unique and important cultural space in the downtown arts scene, as well as helping vital works of cinema get launched into broader release.”

Vanco added, “After years of being the top-grossing venue in the country for many terrific specialized films like ‘Boyhood,’ ‘Citizenfour,’ ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’ and each annual edition of the ‘Oscar-Nominated Short Films,’ as well as hosting the nation’s largest documentary film festival, DOC NYC, it’s become clear that the audience for IFC Center’s programming keeps growing, so to accommodate them, IFC Center needs to grow, too.”

Formerly known as the Waverly Theater, the renovated IFC Center opened on June 17, 2005. The art house complex currently boasts five state-of-the-art theaters and a programming schedule that includes independent and foreign titles alongside unique screening series like Weekend Classics, the cult-skewing Waverly Midnights and a variety of retrospectives. The IFC Center plays home to the annual DOC NYC documentary film festival, held every November.

The theater is currently showing a wide variety of independent options, including holdovers like “Cartel Land,” “The Stanford Prison Experiment” and “Phoenix.” This week sees the opening of “Queen of Earth” and “7 Chinese Brothers.”

Earlier this week, the Metrograph Theater announced its plans to open the first new independent movie house to be built in New York City in ten years with the building of a two-screen cinema on Ludlow Street.

READ MORE: New York’s IFC Center is Ignoring R-Rating for ‘Boyhood’

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