By Julie Satow
Since the Metro Theater showed its last movie in 2005, numerous deals have been announced for the Art Deco gem on the Upper West Side. It was supposed to become an Urban Outfitters clothing store, the home of a nonprofit arts education group, an outpost of the revival-style Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain. But through it all, the Metro has stood vacant, its landmark marquee announcing nothing more than the phone numbers of various real estate brokers hoping to pull in a tenant.
Now, the broken-down, 82-year-old theater is about to be reborn, but not as a cultural institution as many in the neighborhood had wished. It will become the location of a Planet Fitness, a $10-a-month gym.
Many in the neighborhood had hoped the eventual tenant would be akin to Symphony Space, the cultural center located just to the south on Broadway and 95th Street. When Councilman Mark D. Levine was elected to represent the neighborhood in 2013, he vowed to make such a deal. “Sadly, we weren’t able to find a workable deal for a cultural institution and I’m bitterly disappointed about it,” Mr. Levine said in a phone interview. “But having said that, I think any tenant is better than abandonment. And while it is a chain, at least it isn’t a Duane Reade.”