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Updated: 3/25/2010 - 4:20 AM



Suffolk Theatre lawsuit is all settled
Owner must get started soon renovating historic theater
  7 comments below

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO
The Suffolk Theatre's owner, Bob Castaldi, will need to get building permits by August in the new agreement with the town.
The owner of downtown's long-shuttered Suffolk Theatre has until Aug. 22 to get the building permits necessary to begin renovations on the Main Street landmark, according to a settlement of his lawsuit against Riverhead Town.

The Town Board voted unanimously to authorize Supervisor Sean Walter to sign that settlement Tuesday night, although it had not immediately been signed, said Tom Maimone, the attorney for theater owner Bob Castaldi.

"By adopting this resolution, this is settled," Mr. Walter said Tuesday. "This is another step for the renovation of downtown Riverhead."

"We lost a lot of time and a lot of money, but we're looking forward to getting back to work," Mr. Castaldi said. "We're starting from square one."

He said no work was done while the lawsuit was pending.

The agreement would call for Mr. Castaldi to proceed with a scaled-down renovation and would require that he obtain building permits by the August deadline, Mr. Maimone said. The suit would be formally terminated upon receipt of the permits, he said.

'The idea is to do the fastest way possible to get it open.' Tom Maimone, attorney for Suffolk Theatre owner
Mr. Castaldi will not seek to expand the back of the theater for dressing rooms or build apartments in the back of the theater, as originally proposed, Mr. Maimone said.

"The idea is to do the fastest way possible to get it open," Mr. Maimone told the News-Review.

Mr. Castaldi is planning to reopen the theater as a performing arts center and one-screen movie theater.

It had operated as a movie theater from 1933 to 1987.

Mr. Castaldi, whose Pike Realty company bought the 76-year-old theater from the town for $707,000 in February 2005, ended up suing Riverhead Town in October 2007, claiming the town, under then-Supervisor Phil Cardinale, deliberately stalled his efforts to renovate the theater because it wanted to give the property to Apollo Real Estate Advisors, which had proposed a large downtown project adjacent to the Suffolk Theatre.

The contract selling the building to Mr. Castaldi contained a reverter clause, saying that if the renovation wasn't substantially completed by three years after the date of the sale, the town could seek to take the theater back.

Mr. Castaldi, who is in the business of restoring historic buildings, never came close to finishing the work within three years, and the town subsequently went to court to try and get the theater back. Town officials at the time said the delays were due to the fact that Mr. Castaldi had changed the plan from what was originally proposed when he bought the property.

But the Town Board members who were elected in November and took office in January said they didn't want the theater back, and began working on a settlement of the lawsuit.

"We finally have the right people on the Town Board, who understand what is needed to assist business in going forward," Mr. Maimone said. "Sean Walter was instrumental in helping us arrive at this agreement. There's a new attitude of cooperation in the town."

Mr. Maimone said the settlement would give Mr. Maimone two years to complete the work.

The town acquired the theater in 1994 for $425,000 and issued a $1.2 million bond to cover the purchase and renovation of the structure. But numerous plans to restore it failed, and the building stayed off the tax rolls for 11 years.

"This is going to keep [another $83,000] on the tax rolls," Councilman John Dunleavy said at Tuesday's meeting.

In 2001, town voters rejected a $4 million bond to completely rehab the theater after Mr. Cardinale, a lawyer who was not in office at the time, and Sherry Patterson, a local realtor, launched a petition drive to force a public vote on the expenditure.

tgannon@timesreview.com

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7 comments found

RwfcPHkuQOcqBWL : 7/23/2012
I am on your side.Although, I would recommend reiandg some religious texts, because they will teach you how ignorant (I use USA because it's where I see this the most) some American believers' are about their faith. I would say (although I have no evidence to support my claim) that most religious people were brought up religious, and really don't have any religious schooling outside of sunday school. You'd be astonished at what some people don't know about their own beliefs.




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aLZpuOQMOWPBNzfiKo : 6/5/2012
Diane: Thanks for the Mosley recommendation Wisteria: Welcome to Mailbox Monday I have to admit, I look foawrrd to it every week!Lenore: I'll be posting my review of Galway Bay in mid-March Shel: I think a lot of us accepted the Galway Bay book hard to resist, wasn't it?Lexi: You won't have to wait long Staci: Junk mail yuck! Hope this week will be more fun!Kristi: Won't be long before the Themed Challenge starts!




ROGlkoAGrmIYs : 6/5/2012
As a volunteer for the Foundation For Sight and Sound I would like to offer my thgothus. I feel extremely blessed to be part of the FSS for many reasons. Mere words cannot begin to describe what a rewarding feeling it is to speak with an individual who just received the gift of sound. The joy, happiness and gratitude in their hearts is indescribable. Mitch, to quote you “what you give of yourself comes back in many forms. Paying it forward to yet another person who needs that lift!” Although you have been faced with visual and hearing limitations you have far exceeded most. Your positive attitude, compassion and drive have inspired and empowered many to reach their full potential. I have been told by some recipients that they think of you as messenger from G-d and an answer to a long awaited prayer. You are a prime example of being generous and being a good positive influence to everyone and anyone you come in contact with.Leslie Smouha




Suffolk theater and street fair : 6/3/2010
Excellent article!
I referenced it in my piece ..Wal-Mart effect evokes the East End's largest outdoor art gallery ...check out the video too! http://bit.ly/9sMTsD
Youtube- East End Storefront Art Gallery and Street Painting Festival




Blah : 3/18/2010
blah, blah, blah.............yawn.........
J.N.






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