The historic Greenport movie theater is for sale or long-term lease, hitting the market for the first time in nearly 20 years. Listed exclusively with John Catrambone of Dering Harbor Real Estate, it is asking $5.5 million.
The Village Cinema, a two-story building that sits on a 0.25-acre property at 211 E. Front Street near Third Street, has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but has recently undergone “an interior refresh,” according to Catrambone, and is ready for film exhibition and other events.
“The theater has been an endearing beacon of magic not just for Greenport, but for the surrounding communities of the North Fork,” Catrambone tells Behind The Hedges. “I have fond memories of taking our kids on the ferry from our home on Shelter Island to watch a movie on a large screen, and also to enjoy a date night with my wife, either to see a film or be engaged by a speaker or live music. It was the source of many magical moments and hopefully will continue to provide cultural enjoyment for future generations as an anchor of the village.”
The building and business has not been on the market since 2004 when the current owner purchased the property for $500,000, according to deed transfers. Property records show it is owned by a limited liability corporation called Maxwell Winston, whose principal is Josh Sapan, the executive vice chairman of AMC Networks and has been credited with building several award-winning shows, movies and media brands.
Catrambone says Sapan restored the theater “to its magnificence in a renovation that recognized its 1939 design.”
The classic 23-foot neon sign was redone and installed on the façade. Interior renovations included new seating, a custom ticket booth, a café and space for regularly scheduled art exhibitions.
Greenport Theater’s History
The Greenport Theatre was completed in 1939 by Prudential Theaters. It was designed by the renowned theater architect John Eberson to replace its predecessor which was destroyed by the Hurricane of 1938.
Eberson, an Austrian-American architect, designed over 500 theaters, leading to his nickname, “Opera House John.” Some of his other notable surviving theaters includes the Tampa Theatre, built in 1926, and the Palace Theatre, built in Louisville, Kentucky in 1928. Best known for his atmospheric style, such as the State Theatre in Sydney, Australia, his later works were said to be of the exotic revival styles.
The theater opened its doors on May 11, 1939, with The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, starring Don Ameche, according to Cinema Treasures. For 70 years, it was a multiplex theater.
Since June 1992, the theater has had four screens, three in the former orchestra and a fourth where the balcony had been. In total, there are 632 seats.
In addition to screening films, the venue is used for live concerts, cultural events, and various film and television festivals, Catrambone says.
Change is afoot at several movie theaters on the East End. The theater in Southampton Village, also closed since COVID, was sold in November for $8 million. The Westhampton Beach movie theater changed hands earlier in 2022 for $1.15 million and the buyers have revealed plans for a major renovation.
Westhampton and Greenport’s theaters were one of the last independent movie theaters to operate on Long Island. The Sag Harbor Cinema reopened as a not-for-profit after a fire destroyed the building in 2016. The small Montauk cinema closed its doors in 2014. There are longstanding plans to close the United Artists movie theater in Hampton Bays to make way for a CVS.
The only major theaters remaining on the East End are in East Hampton and Mattituck.
Greenport is no stranger to change. The village has been revitalized over the past decade or so, leading to major commercial sales. In 2021, The Menhaden, a new stylish independent luxury boutique hotel right next to the theater at 207 Front Street, was sold to a New England-based boutique real estate private equity firm, for $8.25 million.
Aldo’s Coffee Company, a mainstay in the village since 1987, was listed in 2022 for $4.5 million.