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Malverne Cinema may close if Lynbrook multiplex opens, owners say

The Malverne Cinema on Aug. 10, 2015.

The Malverne Cinema on Aug. 10, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

The Malverne Cinema may close if plans for a 13-screen multiplex in Lynbrook move forward, its owners said.

Malverne Cinema, known for showing independent and foreign films, would lose 25 percent or more of its sales, according to Henry Stampfel, who has owned the film palace with his wife, Anne, since 1990.

"I don't think that I will be able to survive. . . . They will take most of my product," he said, referring to the proposed 80,000-square-foot Regal Cinemas in downtown Lynbrook.

The new theater would replace a 23,000-square-foot movie house at 321 Merrick Rd., also in Lynbrook, which is to be demolished. The older theater, where Regal operates six screens, is about a century old and hosted live performances before being converted to show films.

Regal and two developers, Blumenfeld Development Group of Syosset and the Prusik Group of Manhattan, are seeking tax breaks from the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency. They have said that without the breaks the new 1,660-seat theater will not be built.

Village officials approved the Regal project, valued at $32 million, without receiving any negative comments from residents. Officials said late last week that the new theater will be a "linchpin" of the downtown's revitalization.

"The idea that it's going to steal business from other theaters is incorrect," Village Trustee Michael Hawxhurst said at an IDA public hearing held Friday. "The theaters show different types of movies."

Anne Stampfel, co-owner of the Malverne Cinema, disagreed, saying if the Malverne were to close, 20 people would lose their jobs. The Malverne Cinema is located one and a half miles from the Lynbrook theater.

She also suggested that Regal Entertainment Group reduce the size of the new theater so it won't need tax breaks. "Why more than double what you have now?" she said.

Regal and its development partners predicted the equivalent of 44 full-time jobs will be created by the new theater, up from the two full-time and 32 part-time workers at Lynbrook's historic movie house.

Regal has asked the IDA for a $567,000 sales-tax exemption on the cost of construction materials, furniture and other supplies, and $284,000 off the mortgage recording tax. A substantial, though undisclosed, property tax savings is also being sought.

IDA executive director Joseph J. Kearney said the agency has yet to decide whether the multiplex merits tax breaks. "We are doing our due diligence," he said.

The new theater would serve a larger territory with January's closing of Sunrise Multiplex Cinemas in Valley Stream.

A Blumenfeld spokesman said Monday, "Differing opinions are part of the review and approval process of any project with these kinds of strategic benefits to a community."

A Regal official did not respond.

The vintage Lynbrook movie theater, which showed the first "talkie" film on Long Island in 1929, cannot be salvaged, according to Jack L. Libert, an attorney representing the village. He said, "It's impossible to renovate it again and make it usable."

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