Theaters Catalyze Downtown Development

Former single-screen cinemas in New York City and Long Island are reopening as multi-use art centers and helping to stimulate the revitalization of dormant downtowns.

"As villages and hamlets across Long Island work on revitalizing their downtowns, some are looking to rehabilitate theaters that once were the centerpieces of local business districts.

The Town of Riverhead and the Village of Westbury say they are making progress toward renovating long-shuttered cinemas. And the Islip Pavilion, which opened for its first season in January, is now raising money to add a restaurant, dinner cabaret and a cinema to show independent and foreign films.

The idea isn't new. Huntington's Inter-Media Art Center took up residence in a vintage movie palace in 1983. More recently, cinemas have been converted to performing arts centers in Bay Shore and Northport.

'The single-screen movie theater has gone by the wayside, unfortunately,' said Kevin O'Neill, executive producer of the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, which is housed in a cinema built in 1932.

Showing films - especially on a single, large screen - simply doesn't bring in enough money to sustain a theater, theater operators said.

So communities are embracing new incarnations of buildings where customers paid 99 cents to see a movie just before it would be released on DVD."

Full Story: Rebuilt LI theaters carry hopes for economic revival

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