Riverhead officials have ‘positive’ meeting with Regal reps

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Supervisor Sean Walter hopes a Regal Movie Theaters scout will think the old Woolworth building property is suitable for a new theater.

Supervisor Sean Walter said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the chances of a multiplex coming to downtown Riverhead after a meeting Monday with three representatives of Regal Entertainment Group, the largest theater chain in the country.

The meeting also included Long Island builder Ron Parr, who hopes to acquire the former Woolworth building on East Main Street from Apollo Real Estate Advisors — should he be able to convince a theater company to locate there.

Mr. Walter said the group met in his Town Hall office and afterward he gave the Regal representatives a downtown tour, showing them some of the things happening there.

“What it comes down to now is mathematics,” Mr. Walter said in an interview. “They are going to go back and crunch the numbers and see if we can make this happen. I am cautiously optimistic. If they can make the numbers work, then they’ll take it back to their board and if their board accepts it, we will move forward.”

“They said they have been looking at Riverhead for a while,” he added, though this is the first time all parties met face to face.

The town’s deputy supervisor and community development director also joined in on the meetings.

Mr. Walter has been trying to lure a mutliplex downtown since he took office and has also spoken with representatives of Clearview Cinemas, a Cablevision-owned company, though he said Clearview is currently not in the picture. Regal is the only company the town is now dealing with, he said.

Regal also owns United Artists, which has theaters in Hampton Bays, Southampton and East Hampton.

The numbers Regal will be looking at will include construction costs, rent and demographics, among other things, Mr. Walter said.

“There was no, ‘Thank you for meeting me, Mr. Walter, have a nice day,'” he said of the day’s events. “It was absolutely a positive meeting.”

The supervisor said the subject of building a theater on Route 58 was not raised, as theaters are only permitted in downtown Riverhead under the town’s zoning.

There have been several multiplex movie theaters proposed and even approved in Riverhead in the recent years, including locations at Tanger Outlets, Riverhead Centre and the former Hazeltine property on Route 58, but none of them have ever been built.

A multiplex was proposed at the Woolworth building by Apollo, but their plans for downtown never materialized.

The Vintage Square development group head also recently said a proposal to build a multiplex on Railroad Avenue is still active, although he would need to acquire the land and submit applications.

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