Adaptive Reuse Sought for Historic Union City Theater

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Summit Theatre Union City Exterior
Summit Theatre along Summit Avenue, Union City. Photo via Google Maps/Street View.

For over a century, the Summit Theatre was a destination for Union City residents to see movies and performances. The historic structure at 1212-1216 Summit Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets opened its doors as the Summit Hippodrome in 1905, back when Union City was called West Hoboken. The facility was expanded in 1990 and served the community until recent years, when it underwent several ownership and name changes before closing. Situated in the midst of a bustling business district, the theater featured seating for nearly 600 people, according to Cinema Treasures. Despite efforts over the last five years to reopen the Summit Theatre as either an arts venue or community cinema, it remains closed today.


Although it appears that the days of movies being shown in the venue are over, a new proposal calls for keeping the space but altering its purpose. A legal notice from the Union City Zoning Board of Adjustment shows that the building owner, Hung Fat Inc. of West New York, has applied for Site Plan approval with height-related variances in order to conduct an adaptive reuse and expansion of the structure.

The company’s plan calls for converting the current quadplex theater into an indoor basketball court for an unnamed non-profit organization. In addition, two floors would be constructed atop the existing two-story building to create a four-story mixed-use development. The new floors would contain 10 residential units should the project be granted the necessary approvals by the city.

The attorney that is listed on the notice for the developer did not immediately return a request for comment regarding the proposal. The application is scheduled to go before the Board on Thursday, March 8 at 6:00 p.m.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Why can’t someone reopen it?
    Renovation can be done.
    Let Union City, have some place to see
    Movies, that are playing today.
    Why go to the Mall?
    I rather stay in my neighborhood
    see a good movie for $6.00 dollars.

    • I totally agree! Using it for a basketball venue is absurd. The local community would definitely be able to support it being used as a movie theater as it was meant to be. I spent many a Saturday there when I was growing up and it would be very sad to see it transformed into something else. Renovations could restore the movie theater into a comfortable viewing place, and the stage could also be offered to local arts programs, i.e., dance theater, actor group productions, etc.

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