Downtown Movie Theater One Step Closer To Reality

At 8 a.m. this morning, Sandy Lefkowitz (director of the Westport Cinema Initiative) and Phillip Teuscher (owner of 142 Main Street) planned to sign a letter of intent, to use what’s now a parking lot behind Tavern on Main as the site of a downtown movie theater.

The agreement paves the way for planning to begin. Eventually, the cinema effort will come before the Planning and Zoning Commission, and other town bodies.

Don’t pop the champagne pass the popcorn yet. But a huge hurdle to a new theater seems to be overcome today.

Tavern on Main is on left. 142 Main Street (the building with Great Stuff and other stores) is on the right. Access to the parking lot behind the restaurant is between the two structures.

39 responses to “Downtown Movie Theater One Step Closer To Reality

  1. VetDoc@Compo

    This would be great news, if it happens.
    With all the families in this town it would be a real draw to downtown and could be a spark to having some evening energy in this town.

    Here’s hoping.

    🙂

  2. Babette d'Yveine

    As long as it’s not 60 feet high.

  3. Maybe we should take the Restoration Hardware building by eminent domain and reclaim it as a movie theater. ;<)

    But seriously, there are a bunch of movie theaters just across the border in Norwalk. Also, the downtown Fairfield community theater eventually failed and is now shuttered. Do we really predict a different outcome for a downtown Westport community theater?

  4. Fred Cantor

    Sandy, congrats! I know how hard you and the others have been working on this.

  5. Estelle T. Margolis

    A better site is the Elm Street Parking lots. A two and a half story movie integrated with a two story parking garage would fit there much more comfortably. than the lot behind Tavern, which is really too small.

  6. I look forward to the cinema project finally happening and will volunteer to serve the popcorn if that helps things along!!

  7. “A better site is the Elm Street Parking lots. A two and a half story movie integrated with a two story parking garage would fit there much more comfortably. than the lot behind Tavern, which is really too small.”
    I have to agree with this suggestion. Are there other options on the table?

  8. An art-house theater, hopefully? Similar to Garden Cinemas in Norwalk.

  9. My understanding is that the Westport Cinema Initiative has been exploring all options, and that is the most feasible route to potentially accomplishing its goal of bringing a movie theater back to downtown Westport.

  10. I’d love to see it succeed, but i got a feeling it can’t do so without a handout from the town (zoning wise or money – which is essentially the same thing), and that should not be an option. If anyone is considering spending my tax dollars on entertainment technology, I’d rather have door-to-door fiber optic broadband than a movie theater.

    If they can succeed without a handout from the town – that would be great.

  11. The WCI is not looking for any town handouts, other than the generous donations to get the project built. They are hopeful the town will allow them to use the property that Mr. Teuscher has made available, which of course will require approvals and variences from all the local agencies. The site allows the WCI to keep the overall height well within the surrounding neighborhood while giving it a 3 screen lay-out with over 200 seats in total. It will run first run indepentend films (like garden cinema). It will house the youth film festival as well as various other film based educational programs. It will also be home to premiers, actor and director interaction (like tonight at the Levitt) and much much more.

    Because of the nature of the use, it will be able to benefit from the large available parking on nights. It will bring additional business and shoppers to the new restaurants and stores in the area. The WCI is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization whose goal is to bring movies back to westport. This is a great moment in the evolution of the downtown and I for one vould not be happeir.

    Congratualtions to all invovled. I wish you the best of luck and can’t wait to see a movie in wesport (just like the olden days).

    • Babette d'Yveine

      “The site allows the WCI to keep the overall height well within the surrounding neighborhood” — since you apparently have inside knowlege of the project, what will the overall height be?

  12. The WCI is not looking for any town handouts, other than the generous donations to get the project built. They are hopeful the town will allow them to use the property that Mr. Teuscher has made available, which of course will require approvals and variences from all the local agencies.”

    To have an honest conversation about the pros and cons of this proposed downtown development project, you at least have to recognize the obvious contradictions in your comment above. Changing zoning laws to accommodate a new building/movie theater downtown requires everyone in the town to have skin in the game – not just those looking for an “olden days” communal movie experience.

  13. What’s that gravely, stone crap they paved upper Bayberry Lane with? First they put a thin coating of tar on lower Bayberry, now this cheap stuff above Cross Highway. Can’t Westport afford real blacktop?

    • It’s called a “Chip Seal” .

      They lay down hot tar and then drop small stone chips on it and they adhere to the hot tar to a”resurface” the road.

      It is much less expensive than milling up tthe old roadbed and laying down new asphalt.

      Welcome to our bnew economy.

      • ‘new”

        • When is Beachside Avenue getting all that stone crap in their cars?

          • When Pigs Fly!

            • … and to think, I thought Bayberry Lane had moved up in the world since the days of suicide/target hill.

              • They tried that stone stuff on Newtown Turnpike and had to redo it. Same mess happened on North Ave not long ago. The town never learns! Do it right the first time, or repeat over and over …..$$$$

              • I remember “Target Hill”! I was just a weeee one going to kindergarden at Bayberry Kindergarden School but I always remember the “Target”!!

                Anyone know the story behind it?

                Dan?

                • All I know is “someone” (not us, I swear) painted a bull’s-eye on Bayberry Lane near the Schine’s house. So if you were coming south, from Easton Road, as you raced over the hill you could catch air, and hit the target. Wasn’t great for your car, but tons o’ fun.

              • Will they be putting that cheap stone paving on North Ave in front of Gordon’s house? The old surface is already starting to show through on Bayberry.

    • Westport Convert

      What does this have to do with the movie theater?

      WC

  14. Multiplex is the current business model for theaters. Why we think a a 200 seat theater will revive downtown is a dream to the “good old days.” Where can you grab a quick burger or sandwich before or after the movie? The chains killed downtown because they lack variety, so it’s one clothing / cosmetic store after another. A movie theater showing a Netflix rerun will not solve the problem, although it’s an admirable effort, dependent on charity, not investors.

  15. Great news for anyone interested in the revitalization of Westport arts – helping to make downtown a destination for residents in addition to the many out-of-towners who come to shop. I do not think the aim is to revive the “good old days” – quite the reverse. Westport has been cited as having a robust historical arts scene. This could be one more step toward our arts-present and -future. We have just seen, with the success of the Arts Fair, how popular this can be.

  16. We had movie theaters in Westport. They were not viable. Why will this effort produce a different outcome?

    • Fred Cantor

      I believe the WCI has a different economic model than that of the most recent Westport movie theater, the Fine Arts. It appears that it will be run as a non-profit, that the location will not have the prime street-front rental site that Fine Arts was situated at, etc. If the Garden Cinema can continue its operation for so many years, it seems to me this has a legitimate shot at succeeding (assuming they can raise the initial funds).

      • It will have no trouble achieving status as a non-profit.

        • Being a non-profit doesn’t mean that it’s sustainable. Fairfield Community theater tried it and used volunteers. Still couldn’t stay afloat. This looks like an unrealistic dream of a few based on the “good old days”.

  17. I’d vote for American Beauty or The Money Pit.

  18. Here’s an idea of raising funds for the new theater…
    http://www.mvfilmsociety.com/pdf/Seat.Promo.pdf