Written by Cory Twibell: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 18 May 2012 00:00
The show must go on – and starting this fall, Westbury residents should have plenty of shows from which to choose.
With a nearly decade-long dream coming to fruition, developer Cyrus Hakakian of Roslyn and his partners plan to part the curtains for the multi-purpose Westbury Performing Arts Center sometime this fall.
Originally built in the 1920s, the Post Avenue movie house was a main attraction in the village for several decades until its closure in July 2001. Following a handful of court rulings and legal battles, a bankruptcy sale in September 2004 awarded the 22,000-square-foot property to the highest bidder, Lowe Properties of New York City, which Hakakian and his three brothers own. Hakakian’s bid for the structure was slightly less than $1.7 million.
Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro previously called the theater project the “final piece to the puzzle” in the village’s downtown revitalization effort, which included renovated storefronts with vintage signage, a paved piazza with a fountain, antique-style streetlamps and repaired streets featuring brick accents on crosswalks. The village has also adopted measures to improve safety and add parking along Post Avenue in recent years.
Hakakian noted that the performing arts venue, which he views as a potential “linchpin” on the village’s main thoroughfare, will host Broadway shows, jazz and popular music concerts, family programming, live telecasts of major opera performances as well as dance and theatrical events. He added that the center would also be available for community functions along the lines of charity fundraisers, business conferences and weddings.
The theater features a Broadway-sized proscenium stage in front of approximately 400 seats on the main level and another 300 on the balcony, rendering the capacity to be among the largest on Long Island.
Announcements regarding shows and programming for the theater will be released shortly before the theater’s opening in a few months, and Hakakian also noted that he’s been discussing options to bring in well-known restaurateurs and a European-style coffee house to occupy separate spaces within the complex.
Through the construction and renovation process, Hakakian said that the creation of jobs yielded nearly $3 million toward the village’s economy. An estimated 28 full-time equivalent jobs will be created at the theater and Hakakian believes that the nearly 500,000 expected visitors would generate an additional $4.8 million in revenue for village restaurants and merchants.
Unlike neighboring venues, the majority of performances at the theater will be live, although it will likely show second-run and classic films on occasion. Area schools might also be involved in using the theater for various drama productions.
With the village hosting free live music at the Ernest Strada Piazza throughout the summer and the revival of jazz at Mirelle’s on Post Avenue, the local arts scene is experiencing a renaissance all its own.
And in an area as culturally diverse as Westbury, it’s fitting to play host to a unique, multi-purpose venue like the performing arts center promises to be.
For more information, visit www.villageofwestbury.org.