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Feb 5, 2019 1:03 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Search For A Potential New Permanent Home For Bay Street Theater--In Or Out Of Sag Harbor--Is On

Much as Sag Harbor likes to have it Bay Street Theater seeks a permanent home someday.     KYRIL BROMLEY
Feb 5, 2019 2:42 PM

With about four years to go in a 10-year lease, officials from the Bay Street Theater confirmed this week that they are actively looking at options for a “permanent home” beyond the theater’s eponymous location, including at potential sites outside of Sag Harbor.

Theater officials would offer few details and said the search is still at the “looking” stage, but one trustee did confirm that a Bridgehampton property has been on the list of points of interest thus far.

“I know they have looked at it, yes, but that’s all,” Bay Street trustee Carol Konner said in response to word that the theater has shown interest in the property that now houses Country Gardens Agway on Snake Hollow Road, near the Bridgehampton Commons shopping plaza. “I understand they are looking at other places also, but I don’t know what they are.”

Ms. Konner, who owns the much debated “Gateway” property opposite the Bridgehampton Commons, had proposed building a theater at the site for Bay Street years ago as part of a broader development plan but has since abandoned the theater plan.

She acknowledged that while the theater likes its Bay Street home, it does pose some logistical hurdles, like availability of parking in the summer season, that a new location could solve.

The 5.4-acre Country Gardens Agway property has not been listed for sale, and owner Joseph Butts was out of town this week and could not be reached for comment. The property is owned by a limited liability corporation, of which Mr. Butts is a principal.

The theater’s executive director, Tracy Mitchell, said that the group has “always been looking” for possible new homes that will not be dependent on renegotiating lease agreements on a regular basis, as is the case with the Long Wharf location.

When the theater inked the current decade-long lease for the building on the corner of Long Wharf and Bay Street with landlord Patrick Malloy III, its leaders said then that the time would be spent trying to nail down a permanent location—either there or elsewhere.

In early 2012, the theater had announced that it planned to close at the end of that season because it had failed to reach a tenable deal for a new lease with Mr. Malloy. Theater officials said they were looking for new locations, and that the most appealing option would have moved the group to Southampton Village, where then-Mayor Mark Epley was making a strong pitch for the theater to take over the former Parrish Art Museum building, rent free.

The possibility of losing the theater group drew a roar of public outcry from Sag Harbor residents and business owners, and, after months of new negotiations, Mr. Malloy gave the theater a 10-year lease extension, until 2023, with essentially no rent increases. It also gave the theater the right to exit the lease early if it found a new long-term home.

One location that had been long talked about as a potential new home for the theater was the Sag Harbor Cinema building on Main Street, which had been for sale for years. But after fire destroyed much of the building in December 2016, a grassroots group raised more than $8 million to rebuild the theater, restore its Art Deco facade and iconic neon “Sag Harbor” sign, and start a new not-for-profit movie theater called the Sag Harbor Cinema Art Center.

Ms. Mitchell said the theater does hope to be able to renew the lease on the Bay Street building again, both because the group does not want to leave its current home and because if securing a permanent home means building a new facility elsewhere, it may take longer than is left on the current lease to complete—especially considering that no site has been identified and the group would need to raise tens of millions of dollars to build one.

“I want a permanent home, the board would like to find a permanent home, and if it can be here at Bay Street, great,” she said. “If it can’t be here and we have to go somewhere else, the problem is, there is not a lot out here of the size and zoning that would be required for a theater. But it’s too broad at this point to discuss.”

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OK Southampton, you screwed this up last time around.
Here's your chance yet again.
Make them an offer they can't walk away from.
Bringing the theater into the village would go a long way towards fixing that dead village problem you have.
By bird (777), Sag Harbor on Feb 5, 19 5:25 PM
2 members liked this comment
Please write a letter to press and call the mayor. I am going to. I was all for that 6 years ago. The Bay Street theater at Jobs Lane. It would be grand and a boom for the business districts. Better restaurants may want to come in. Invigorate the summer night life on main and jobs.
By lursagirl (203), southampton on Feb 6, 19 12:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
Bird, excellent idea. It would definitely add some life back into the village. It was a giant mistake letting the museum move out of the village.
By Fred s (2297), Southampton on Feb 5, 19 5:34 PM
2 members liked this comment
Fred, lursa - Hope many others in the village share your enthusiasm for bringing the theater to Southampton.
Do whatever it takes:
Give them a fifty year lease at $1/year.
Use the villages bonding power to help with the renovations.
Pay them a signing bonus for taking the lease.
Baystreet at the Parrish would be awesome!
By bird (777), Sag Harbor on Feb 7, 19 11:50 AM
oh no take over agway and give the CAC something else to complain about. can anyone imagine the traffic especially during classic week not to mention new marshalls that kimco is going to build the cac complains about Mrs Konner and all her plans but she offered to build a theatre for Bay st but CAC took her down. CAC is invoking opinions not allowed in its "charter from the town board" and should be shut down by the town board for excessive lobbing to the planning board and the zba the nimby ...more
By xtiego (694), bridgehampton on Feb 5, 19 6:04 PM
Hampton Bays Diner would be a good location ..............
By HamptonDad (205), Hampton Bays on Feb 5, 19 7:22 PM
The movie theater in Hampton Bays would be PERFECT!
By murph (2), hampton bays on Feb 6, 19 11:51 AM
Hampton Bays would be a great home and bring a revitalization to the town!
By jafs (3), Hampton Bays on Feb 7, 19 11:34 AM
How did this story disappear from the home page so fast?
By bird (777), Sag Harbor on Feb 7, 19 12:33 PM