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MOVIE HOUSE DEAL
Stage is set to sell theater in Riverhead
BY JAMIE HERZLICH
STAFF WRITER – Newsday
December 28, 2004
The last time the Suffolk Theatre’s doors were open, “Dirty Dancing” was playing on the big screen.
After years of false starts, Riverhead officials said they expect to authorize a contract tomorrow to sell the 1933 art deco movie house to Long Island City-based Castle Restoration and Construction. The group would purchase the 800-seat to be turned into a performing arts center, officials said.
“We didn’t even dream possible a full restoration,” said Town Supervisor Phil Cardinale.
The town, which has owned the theater since 1994, had almost given up on a performing arts center use this summer when it issued a request for proposals that included a variety of other expanded uses. Castle was one of the early bidders.
“We expect to close on the deal no later than Feb. 18,” Cardinale said.
Castle president Robert Castaldi said renovations should take about a year and would include refurbishing the interior, and replacing the electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning systems. Meanwhile, he wants to keep the building and architectural design intact.
He said the intent is to be open seven days a week from about 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. A variety of shows including jazz, comedy and off-Broadway musicals would be offered, he added. During the week, the center might host events such as antique auctions and corporate functions, and he says he would like to keep a single screen for movies.“Whatever fills the seats,” Castaldi said.
As part of the purchase, Castle will acquire two nearby parcels of land. That will allow it to eliminate a blind alley adjacent to the property for better parking access and expand the back of the building to push out the stage and add dressing rooms.
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