Will Woolworth building’s new shops threaten cinema plans? Supe says no

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Knu Style N Temple beauty and barber shop recently opened in the spot where town supervisor Sean Walter said he would like to see a movie theater.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter headed upstate Thursday night after being invited by Regal Cinemas to attend the opening of a 10-screen Regal multiplex in Clifton Park near Albany.

“We’re going to go up and talk to them and hopefully they will put a theater on Main Street,” Mr. Walter said earlier in the day.

But the road trip happened just two days after a barbershop opened for business in the easternmost portion of East Main Street’s old Woolworth building, which would have be knocked down to make way for a local Regal, under plans Mr. Walter has discussed publicly.

While Mr. Walter said the new shop there is only operating on a short-term lease and wouldn’t impede the movie theater plans, the owner of Knu Style N Temple barbershop and beauty salon, Charlie Green, told the News-Review he doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.

Knu Style-N-Temple opened Tuesday with a 10-year lease that reads nothing about him having to move if the building is sold, Mr. Green said, adding that he’s heard the empty storefront next to him, which used to house Bagel Lovers, may also soon be rented.

A downtown cinema has been discussed for more than a year now, and is said by Mr. Walter to involve Long Island developer Ron Parr purchasing the former Woolworth building and building a multiplex cinema on that site. The property is owned by Apollo Real Estate Advisers, which acquired it in 2006 when it had plans to put a multiplex there while remaking much of the downtown. Apollo’s $500 million plans for downtown never came to fruition.

An Apollo representative could not be reached for comment about the lease agreement with the barbershop.

As for the supervisor’s trip upstate, Mr. Walter said Mr. Parr was supposed to accompany him, but hurt his back and pulled out at the last minute.

Mr. Parr has been talking with Regal, which is the largest cinema chain in the country, and Regal officials also have met local officials here recent months and took a walking tour of the town. Mr. Walter said he was told that Regal’s board will take up the issue of whether to build in Riverhead sometime in December.

Officials have said the plan for downtown would be an eight-screen multiplex.

And despite the new rentals, Mr. Walter said he’s optimistic a deal will materialize.

“It gets closer every time we talk,” he said. “People have been talking about a movie theater for 20 years here, so me working on it for 22 months isn’t terrible.”

Knu Style N Temple had been on Peconic Avenue for the past 11 years, and was on Old Quogue Road in Riverside for five years before that, Mr. Green said.

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