Cinema closes amid ownership changes | Herald Community Newspapers

Merrick Cinemas V, on Broadcast Plaza in Merrick, has closed, just five years after opening.

The movie theater, at 15 Fisher Ave. – at the entrance to the square – has been in operation there for about 20 years. It reopened under its most recent owner, Dean Theodorous, in October 2017.

At the end of August, its signage and its cinema posters were dismantled, and replaced by a simple message: “Theater closed. Goodbye, Merrick.

According to a statement on the theater’s website, the lease on the property expires and the building is to be sold. “Despite our efforts to keep the theater open, the new buyers were unwilling to provide us with a new lease,” the statement said.

Merrick Chamber of Commerce board member Joe Baker said that at one time there were three movie theaters in town. Baker owned the brown-colored house, where he had a cafe in the 80s and 90s, alongside what was then a catering business, before it became a movie theatre.

When Merrick Cinemas V suddenly closed, it came as a shock to many, including Baker. “It’s interesting,” he said. “Sad, but interesting.”

According to Loop Net, an online marketplace for commercial properties, the cinema is for sale, listed at $2.2 million by Cresa, a commercial real estate company. The highlight of the site’s investment, according to the website, is its proximity to the Merrick Long Island Rail Road station, making it an “excellent development opportunity”. Loop Net says the property is under contract, but does not say who is trying to acquire it.

Baker said he saw movie theater seats being moved into a tractor-trailer behind the theater on Fisher Avenue, likely indicating that whoever acquires the property would no longer operate it as a movie theater.

He added that he guessed he could not say with certainty that a developer might seek to replace the theater with a multi-storey property, with retail on the ground floor and housing above.

There have been two notable proposals for apartment complexes in Bellmore over the past year: one to replace a closed Citibank branch on Bedford Avenue, and the other to replace the old Temple Beth El on Bellmore Road. A question repeatedly raised by residents is where apartment dwellers would park their vehicles if the existing parking space at both locations proves to be insufficient.

If an apartment proposal is in the works for the closed cinema, it will need to be approved by the town of Hempstead, Baker said, to ensure there is enough parking space.

The cinema, he added, was well placed. Even though the lots in front are intended for commuter parking during weekday working hours, the city has allowed the theater to operate in the plaza since most people go to the movies in the evenings or on weekends. Broadcast Plaza intersects with Merrick Avenue, where most of Merrick’s local stores are located. There is additional parking behind the theater on Fisher Avenue for shoppers and, until now, theatergoers.

The theater was known for its low prices and as a favorite venue for private events, such as birthday parties.

“It was terribly shocking,” Vicki Ferretti wrote to the Herald in a Facebook post. “We were there just a few weeks ago, and there was no indication that they were closing. Such a shame – the prices were great and they had just redone the theater, adding reclining seats.

Some agreed with Baker that an apartment complex could be in the site’s future. Yvette Novo-Scamardella wrote that she thought the property “could be rezoned for residential use”. “Honestly, I’m saddened by this,” she added of the theater’s closure. “It was a nice place to take your kids.”

Others in the area said they hope Cinemas V’s disappearance was not an indication that other nearby cinemas may also be closing. “It’s sad,” Wendy Shatz said. “I hope this doesn’t happen at the Bellmore Playhouse.”

With many people watching movies these days on streaming services, like Netflix and Disney+, Shatz added, “that can’t help theaters” stay open.

Theodorous thanked Merrick and neighboring communities for their support over the past five years. He said he was “deeply saddened” that the community lost its local theatre. “Our amazing employees,” he added, “will be part of our family forever.”

About Wanda G. Warren

Check Also

Community through collective ownership in Oakland

In 2015, after the economy began to fully recover from the Great Recession, the tech …