Cinema Construction to Begin

Durell Godfrey

After 16 months of planning and fund-raising, the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center will begin its construction phase on Saturday at 2 p.m. with a groundbreaking ceremony to be held on the site of the village’s historic movie theater, which was destroyed by fire in December 2016. Mayor Sandra Schroeder, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., and other elected officials are expected to attend.

In a statement announcing the event, April Gornik, the vice president of the Sag Harbor Partnership, the organization that has spearheaded the campaign to restore the cinema, said, “It’s so thrilling to actually start the building process.” 

The partnership, which completed its purchase of the theater in early January, had planned to raise $3 million for building costs by July 1 before beginning construction, but it decided to move up the timetable, using the $1.5 million raised thus far to begin the foundation work on the front of the building, which will face Main Street. This decision was made, according to the statement, “to respect Main Street stores by avoiding disturbance during the busiest part of the summer.” The total cost of the renovation is estimated at $6 million.

The organization said that it expects the foundation work to be completed by July 1, after which work will continue from the back of the building, using the former theater, which was left standing after the fire, for staging and storage. 

Allen Kopelson, the founding principal of NK Architects, and Racanelli Construction, a Long Island contracting firm, were chosen to oversee the building process. Meanwhile, fund-raising for the center will continue through the summer. The partnership’s second annual Big Tent: Party for the Cinema is scheduled for July 8.

Looking ahead to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the partnership said that “every effort will be made to have the new Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center finished by summer 2019.”