Review Board Takes Issue with Sag Harbor Cinema’s Roof Deck Plan

A rendering of the proposed "green wall" and roof terrace in the updated plans for the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center. A sign indicated in the drawing has not been formally proposed. Image by Allen Kopelson, architect

With its revised plans for a third-story addition and proposed rear roof deck with a sun covering, the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center has been sailing through the regulatory boards’ review processes fairly smoothly.

In December, the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals agreed to approve a handful of variances the cinema needed for the updated building plan, including for the greater-than-usual height, up to 38.5 feet, and larger-than-usual square footage, up to 12,049 square feet. Those variances were formally approved by the ZBA on Tuesday. The Sag Harbor Planning Board is expected to approve an updated site plan at its next meeting on January 22.

But last Thursday, when the cinema’s representatives went before the Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review for a public hearing, they hit a rough patch.

Architect Allen Kopelson presented the cinema team’s need for three-and-a-half extra feet in height, 1,220 more square feet of area on the third floor, and a 600-square-foot roof deck in the rear of the building. The extra room is for office space and virtual reality programming, which requires 12-foot-tall ceilings. The rear roof deck, which would have a sun screen over it, will be for events.

Board members have often resisted roof terraces but they have approved a front roof terrace, immediately behind the façade. Last Thursday, board members took a tough approach on the proposed rear roof deck.

“What it’s doing for me is it’s making it look like a lady’s hat at the races, and I’m wondering if it’s really necessary,” said David Berridge, the board’s new member. He also compared the sun covering to a lighthouse. “I feel it could be calmed down a little bit,” he said.

“There’s homes back there,” board member Bethany Deyermond said. “Do you have anything that shows how it would look from their perspective … how it would look if it was used as a party? They’ll be able to see it and hear it.”

What Mr. Kopelson called a “green wall” is also proposed for the rear of the structure, with plantings such as ivy that will grow up the wall to make a blank white mass more appealing. It was designed by landscape architect Edmund Hollander.

The roof deck did not have the support of a majority of the board, which sent Mr. Kopelson and Mr. Kelley away to come up with additional drawings. They are slated to return at the board’s next meeting on January 24.

The architectural review board also took a hard stance last Thursday when Bay Street Partners LLC asked the board to approve a front-facing roof deck and kitchen expansion for its Bay Street restaurant, Dopo la Spiaggia. At issue were the aesthetics of the terrace and the height of its railing.

“As it’s drawn, I don’t think it can actually exist,” Mr. Berridge said. “I would like to see physically how high that rail would be. It doesn’t add up to me.”

“It’s really tough. I think it’s going to be a detriment to the streetscape,” Mr. Gomolka added.

The board took a rare straw vote and found it was divided, three opposed and two in favor, against the roof deck. It approved the restaurant’s kitchen expansion but tabled the terrace to its January 24 meeting.