A town that used to have four movie screens, now has zero. But, a new initative is gaining steam and if things go according to plan, a new movie theater could be in this parking lot.
The last movie theater closed its doors back in 1999, one of the many to succumb to the town’s high cost of real estate. But while real estate prices certainly haven’t changed here in Westport, new ideas on the other hand are emerging.
“The only viable way for it to work in this town is for it to be a membership driven model, like the Avon, like the Jacob Burns, where the ticket price doesn’t necessarily reflect the total operational cost,” said Sandy Lefkowitz of the Westport Cinema Initative.
Sandy Lefkowitz is the Executive Director of the group leading this charge, known as Westport Cinema Initative. Starting out as a grassroots organization back in 2010, today it’s an offical non-profit, already presenting films at various locations around town.
"This is the type of place that you can rent out for your 50th birthday and show your favorite film" she continued.
And, now it’s time for a permanent home.
Already you can tell this isn’t your average multiplex. Films here will range from indie, to classics and even foreign. It will be three floors and will likely be built on this parking lot. The Westport Initative already secured a lease agreement with the property manager.
“It turns out this can’t be used for anything else. The property manager owns these two buildings attached to this property. It can’t be sold separately. It can’t be built on. Except, the town has said it would really like it and if we put a non-for-profit in this space they would be very favorable of it," said Lefkowitz.
So what’s currently holding up construction? Well, most importantly: The group needs funding. It’s currently seeking 4.5 million dollars to cover its construction and its first year operational expenses. Plus, it will need to gain approval from town boards, like the Planning and Zoning Commission. When both of those are achieved, construction can likely take up to two years.