Smoking Banned in Upper West Side Condo; Metro Theater Returns to Life

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor The board of a 32-story condominium on the Upper West Side has voted with an overwhelming 47 to 3 out of 68 owners to ban smoking inside the apartments. According to a recent article in The [...]

The board of a 32-story condominium on the Upper West Side has voted with an overwhelming 47 to 3 out of 68 owners to ban smoking inside the apartments. According to a recent article in The New York Times, the condo is one of the first residential buildings in New York to approve such a drastic ban. Even smoker residents who moved in the building before the ban was voted will have to follow the new rules.

It was two years ago that Gideon Stein, the president of the condo board at Ariel West, first came up with the idea of a smoking ban. Though he received support, he was unable to put the idea into practice without a strong education campaign throughout the building. Stein and his wife explained to reluctant residents that they need to respect their neighbors’ health and right to breathe clean air in their own apartments. Eva C. Talel, the condo board’s lawyer, explained that while nobody is forced to do anything, once a sufficient number of residents abide to a set of rules, the building incorporates that change into the system.

Meanwhile, the Metro Theater, located on the Upper West Side, may be converted into a new home for Wingspan Arts, a nonprofit organization that teaches art to about 6,000 students in New York City and the surrounding areas. Wingspan Arts plans to invest $25 million for the construction of a three-floor theater and an education complex. The proposal also includes a number of rehearsal spaces, about 3,000 square feet of office space and a café.

According to Gary Bernstein, the organization’s co-founder and president, part of the costs are expected to be covered by renting some of the space to live theater companies. Further funds will be attracted from private financing and from city, state and federal grants. The theater will be increased to approximately 30,000 square feet by excavating below-grade. Albert Bialek, the theater’s owner, has declared that he is not willing to sell the building just yet. In this case, Wingspan Arts can only sign a long-term lease with an option to buy.

The Metro Theater was built in 1933 and was originally known as the Midtown Theater despite its uptown location. It was one of the many movie theaters on Broadway between 59th and 110th streets: the Circle Theater at 59th Street, The Stoddard at 90th Street and the Olympia at 107th Street. All of the theaters have been demolished except for the Metro building.