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As historic theater is listed for $5.5M, an effort mounts to put it aside

A film home that is practically a century outdated has hit the market in Greenport.

The historic Greenport Theater at 211 Entrance Road was listed for $5.5 million with John Catrambone of Dering Harbor Actual Property earlier this week. An actual property itemizing additionally notes that the property is being supplied on the market or long-term lease.

It has been owned since 2004 by Josh Sapan, who just lately stepped down from his function as CEO at AMC Networks.

“It has been 20 years now that he is been operating it and he is able to switch possession to somebody — or a gaggle — that has a imaginative and prescient for operating it,” Mr. Catrambone stated Thursday.

“There’s this renewed curiosity in these older film palaces as these community-centric occasion areas,” he stated, that may very well be used for cinema, music, theater and different artwork kinds. “It is arrange in a pleasant manner for these varieties of occasions and may very well be thrilling for a neighborhood group.”

The unique constructing dates again to 1915 and an earlier theater was destroyed by the Nice New England Hurricane in 1938. It was rebuilt the next 12 months by Prudential Theaters and designed by John Eberson, an architect famend for his film palace designs.

Over time, the single-screen cinema was become a multiplex with 632 seats throughout 4 theaters.

Mr. Sapan bought the theater in 2004 as a ardour undertaking and started renovations to honor its art-deco glory, together with putting in a 23-foot neon signal alongside the façade, constructing a brand new ticket sales space, updating the seats and including a restaurant. Infrastructure enhancements like switching to digital projectors have been additionally accomplished.

The long-lasting neon signal was put in as a part of an in depth renovation effort. (Courtesy images)

Mr. Sapan retired from AMC Networks on the finish of 2022 and just lately printed a ebook, “The Third Act: Reinventing Your Subsequent Chapter,” about growing old gracefully and reinventing your self in retirement.

In an interview Thursday, Mr. Sapan mirrored on the final twenty years and stated he feels it is an applicable time to step away. “Throughout [COVID-19,] we needed to shut after which my life took on this new stage,” he stated. “It simply appeared like an ideal time.”

In some methods, itemizing the cineplex on the market is Mr. Sapan’s personal private third act, as he plans to deal with unbiased movies and private tasks, like a brand new initiative entitled “Marvels of Media” on the Museum of the Shifting Picture to have fun moviemakers who’re on the autism spectrum.

“I’ve liked films since I used to be a child and I really like the Greenport theater,” Mr. Sapan stated.

He first turned enamored by the theater after buying a second residence in Shelter Island Heights—technically inside strolling distance, plus a ferry journey, to the theater.

“The tales [of the theater] have been considerable,” Mr. Sapan stated, recounting tales from old-timers who as soon as labored as uniformed ushers throughout its heyday to {couples} that shared their first date there years in the past. “Huge openings would happen and automobiles would line up. It was the heartbeat… the pulsing middle of Greenport,” he stated.

Tony Spiridakis is amongst these with fond reminiscences of the Greenport Theater.

“It is the primary place I ever noticed a film,” he stated. “It was a type of gladiator movies.”

Although he cannot fairly bear in mind the precise title — the expertise clearly caught with him, as Mr. Spiridakis works as a filmmaker and 12 years in the past, based the Manhattan Movie Institute together with his associate Lisa Gillooly.

Whereas Mr. Sapan sometimes operated the theater day by day on the peak of the summer time vacationer season, Mr. Spiridakis and Ms. Gillooly helped kickstart a winter movie collection in 2019 after funding repairs to a damaged boiler system that enabled them to warmth the theater.

Now, he is hoping to be his subsequent steward.

In an interview Thursday, Mr. Spiridakis stated Mr. Sapan has given him “an incredible alternative” to assist save the theater if he can type a brand new nonprofit, assemble a board and lift $1 million for a brand new cultural arts middle.

“It is as much as us now,” Mr. Spiridakis stated. “The profit to the neighborhood goes to be for generations to come back.”

A donor has already pledged $150,000, he stated, including that he stays hopeful the neighborhood will rally in assist of the long-lasting theater. “The considered it changing into one other lodge or bar or another sort of enterprise apart from what it’s now simply hurts my coronary heart,” Mr. Spiridakis stated.

Regardless of its native significance and eligibility, the theater just isn’t listed as a landmark or inside an official historic district. It’s situated throughout the village’s Waterfront Industrial zoning district which is at the moment impacted by a improvement moratorium adopted by the board final month.

Mr. Sapan stated Thursday that Mr. Spiridakis is “an exquisite man” that “embodies the spirit” of the theater.

“Tony is a gifted director and would make an important chief,” he stated.

For extra info on the trouble to save lots of the theater or to make a donation, go to

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