Long Island music museum looks for new home

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A museum honoring Billy Joel, Mariah Carey and other Long Island music greats is looking for a new home.

Two years after ceremonies heralding a lease agreement between the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and Town of Brookhaven officials, museum chairman Jeff James said Tuesday the hall would not move into a town-owned building in Port Jefferson -- a 19th-century edifice that required extensive and expensive repairs.

The town instead intends to sell the vacant First National Bank of Port Jefferson building to a developer who plans to open shops on the first floor and apartments on the second floor, said town attorney Annette Eaderesto.

The town is expected to earn $1 million from the sale, officials said.

The hall has honored nearly 90 musicians since it was founded in 2006, but it has not had a permanent home.

"It was going to take a lot of money to get those doors open," James said of the Port Jefferson building. "It would have been wonderful to be there. Circumstances just wouldn't allow it. We gave it our best effort. The Town of Brookhaven gave it their best effort."

James said hall officials are considering a potential site for the museum, but he would not disclose its location. He said hall officials are also considering a mobile museum that would take exhibits on tour around Long Island.

The nonprofit hall -- whose inductees include rockers The Good Rats and Brooklyn native Barbra Streisand -- agreed in 2011 to lease the Port Jefferson building from the town for at least 15 years for a token one-time rent payment of $10.

The museum and Brookhaven officials have agreed to cancel the lease, Eaderesto said. The town had repaired the structure's leaky roof and completed other work, such as mold remediation, she said.

She could not disclose how much the town spent on repairs but said talks with museum officials had been "amicable. . . . We did some work in there. . . . It was just mutually agreed upon that we wouldn't go any further."

Hall officials had hoped to raise more than $1.5 million for the Port Jefferson museum. James declined to say how much had been raised but said fundraising had been "difficult" during a stagnant economy.

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said losing the hall was "extremely disappointing. We thought this would be a cornerstone economic development."

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