Late Tuesday afternoon, after months of uncertainty about its future, the board of the Bay Street Theatre announced it had inked a new lease with landlord Patrick Malloy III to remain in its Long Wharf home in Sag Harbor.
According to Bay Street Theatre Board of Directors President Frank Filipo, Malloy has given the theatre a 10-year lease beyond 2013 with a slight increase in rent. The financial stability of having a fixed 10-year lease coupled with Malloy agreeing to allow the theater flexibility to leave the space with proper notice should Bay Street Theatre achieve its goal of finding a permanent home is a “gift,” said Filipo.
“The beauty of this and what Pat has agreed to is that this lease gives us stability but also the flexibility to pursue other opportunities that arise,” said Filipo.
The announcement came after months of speculation about where Bay Street Theatre would go after its stage went black when its lease expired in May 2013.
Late last year, Bay Street Theatre officials announced they would not seek to renew their three year lease with Malloy citing the inability for the theater to remain financially viable without a permanent home or at the very least a long-term lease option.
At a grim meeting in January, sitting on the stage Bay Street Theatre has called home for over 20 years, theater officials pledged their loyalty to Sag Harbor. But they explained there were few options available for moving the theater within the village and said talks had begun in earnest with Southampton Village where Bay Street was being offered a new home in the soon to be vacated Parrish Art Museum space.
On Tuesday, Filipo stressed that working with Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley and his team in looking at a possible future for Bay Street Theatre in Southampton was a positive experience.
“You have to go back to the basic premise that the organization’s preference was to stay in Sag Harbor if possible,” said Filipo. “Mark Epley was wonderful to work with, but when this opportunity presented itself it was not one we could pass up.”
According to Bay Street Theatre Executive Director Tracy Mitchell, the theatre will pursue a capital campaign for a new facility while enjoying its new longer lease.
“We deeply thank Pat Malloy for his understanding and his goodwill,” said Mitchell. “He has provided us with the stability we have sought — an assurance that we can continue our innovative and award-winning productions while a permanent home is being developed.”
“I am very pleased that Bay Street Theatre has decided to stay in Sag Harbor and happy to be able to help them again with a favorable lease,” said Malloy in a written statement. “My hat is off to the good directors and managers for making the decision to continue to provide great theater to Sag Harbor.”
Filipo said that costs would remain high for the theater and that fundraising, for the theater’s annual budget as well as the capital campaign, will be critical.
“I think it is important that Bay Street Theatre stays here,” said Sag Harbor Village Trustee Robby Stein, who is also a member of the Bay Street Theatre board. “It helps business, it is a cultural center and it has been serving as a community center. I think there was a strong response to people wanting the theater to stay here and I think Pat heard that.”
Looking into a future for Bay Street in Sag Harbor, several sources did report that Bay Street has met with Cape Advisors, the firm developing the former Bulova Watchcase Factory into luxury condominiums. According to those sources, a discussion was had about the ability for the firm to help the theatre develop a permanent home in Sag Harbor.
On Wednesday, Mitchell said the theatre did meet with members of Cape Advisors, but called the discussion “preliminary at best.”
“We had an exploratory conversation and we have not talked to them since,” said Mitchell. “We wanted to meet with each other and the upshot is we are seeing if there is an overlap in both of our business needs and that is all at this point.”
As for whether or not Cape Advisors was interested in helping Bay Street actually construct a theatre, Mitchell said the theatre administration is interested in talking to any developers or private parties about how that can be accomplished.
“Everyone knows what our end goal is,” said Mitchell.
“We view Bay Street Theatre as important to Sag Harbor as it is one of the crown jewels of the village, said David Kronman, a spokesman for Cape Advisors. “We wanted to sit down and map out where they are to see what we may be able to do in the future to keep them in Sag Harbor.”