By Christine Sampson
More details on the proposed rebuilding of the Sag Harbor Cinema as the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center emerged Tuesday during a village planning board work session, at which the project’s architect showed a rendering of a façade rebuilt to its former appearance and assured the board that “what you see is what you get.”
“This will look exactly as it had prior to the fire,” architect Allen Kopelman of N/K Architects said before delving into a description of a building proposed at three stories instead of two, with a grand staircase, three theater spaces instead of one large one, a second projection room, a café and an outdoor terrace.
The new Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center is the vision of the Sag Harbor Partnership, the nonprofit organization that is in contract to buy the property from its owner, Gerald Mallow, for $8 million. The organization has raised about $6.25 million so far, and has until December 31 to reach its goal. It will need to secure another $5 million to complete the construction.
The width of the building would stay exactly as it originally was, Mr. Kopelman said, though the plans call for adding about 2,900 square feet by creating new spaces within the old footprint and by adding the third story. The building would still conform to the village’s maximum allowable building height of 35 feet.
What also would remain the same is the large screen in the main auditorium.
“What we intend to do is make this theater more user friendly,” Mr. Kopelman said. “It’s very important to us that you can go to a movie theater with such a large screen as we have here in Sag Harbor.”
The largest of the three auditoriums in the rebuilt cinema will have about 200 seats, with a second, 100-seat venue bookending it so the two theaters can share one projection room. Those would be on the first floor. On the second floor would be the small screening room/classroom space, which would need a new, separate projection room.
The third-floor portion of the building, Mr. Kopelman said, would be hidden from street view by virtue of its setback from the front of the building. At the front of it would be a roof terrace with a 42-inch guardrail set back a few feet from the façade. He called some of the third-floor space a “flex area” that may house events like “occasions and lectures” or administrative offices.
The café is proposed as more of a relationship with an existing Sag Harbor food purveyor, Mr. Kopelman said. Situated where the RJD Art Gallery used to be, that vendor would simply provide food to be heated or cooled in the cinema’s café, rather than fully prepared there.
The cinema plans will need to be analyzed under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). The plans will also require several variances from the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals, according to attorney Christopher D. Kelley, who represents the Sag Harbor Partnership in this project. They will also go before the Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review.
The planning board work session concluded with chairman Gregory Ferraris stating he will recuse himself from future discussions of the cinema, as he has a business relationship with the Sag Harbor Partnership and wants to avoid a conflict of interest.
The board members themselves did not have much to say about the project yet, as they had only just viewed the plans for the first time.
“We’ve been through the SEQRA process for Bulova, some of us, and the process for the library and for Ferry Road, and those were some big, challenging projects,” board member Neil Slevin said following the meeting. “I think we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
SagTown Coffee to File New Planning Board Application
Mr. Ferraris announced Tuesday that SagTown Coffee, which is owned by Shane Dyckman and represented by attorney Brian DeSesa, is planning to file a new application before the Sag Harbor Planning Board pertaining to the two storefronts it currently operates as one store on Main Street.
“We hope that the applicant is going to provide a complete and accurate application,” Mr. Ferraris said.