TIM GANNON PHOTO
Supervisor Sean Walter and other Riverhead Town Board members
outside the downtown theater Monday.
Work on the Suffolk Theatre restoration officially began Monday morning with a ceremonial smashing of the bricks by Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter. (A variation of the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony.)
Owner Bob Castaldi has building permits to begin work on what will be the office and ticket booth for the theater and plans to apply for permits to do the rest of the renovation project later this week, Mr. Castaldi said.
Mr. Castaldi purchased the theater from Riverhead Town in 2005 for $707,000, but the restoration stalled and he became involved in litigation with the town in 2007. That litigation was settled earlier this year, when the newly-elected Town Board members said they had no interest in re-acquiring the theater through a reverter clause in the sales contract. That clause allowed the town to take back the building if work wasn’t substantially completed within three years of the sale, which it was not.
Mr. Castaldi believes the renovation will take a year and a half to two years, and he plans to make the building energy efficient, with solar panels for heating and hot water and radiant heat in the floors.