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Bay Street presents a sneak peek of new theater with rendering

A rendering shows the new building for Bay

A rendering shows the new building for Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. Completion of the project is targeted for 2023. Credit: Roger Ferris + Partners

Its grand opening is still a few years away, but on Tuesday the creative forces at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor offered a preview of coming attractions for the venue's new home.

A rendering of the building designed by architect Roger Ferris was presented in a Zoom announcement featuring the theater's executive director Tracy Mitchell and artistic director Scott Schwartz, as well as Adam Potter, chairman of the nonprofit organization Friends of Bay Street.

While the main materials for the building structure will be wood, zinc, concrete and glass, one other element will be the key ingredient to the look of the theater, Ferris said. "The predominant material is light because we’re making it very transparent, which will give it a kind of ethereal quality," Ferris told Newsday on Monday during a conference call with Mitchell and Potter.

Key to the design is giving the building a contemporary look while also offering a nod to the history of Sag Harbor, Ferris said. The roofline, for instance, features sliding gables that fit in with the area's nautical atmosphere. "They’re very shallow gables, but they’re very reminiscent of sailboats that you see in the Noyack Bay or the Peconic Bay," he said.

In November, the village of Sag Harbor enacted a six-month moratorium on building as new codes were being developed. Potter is hopeful that the design can be presented to the planning and zoning board by June with construction to follow soon after. Bay Street is targeting 2023 for the new venue to open.

The building will be located at the entrance to Sag Harbor and will overlook John Steinbeck Waterfront Park. It will also feature multiple theaters; outdoor performance and public spaces, and dedicated educational facilities.

"We've outgrown our current space," Mitchell said. "Our shows have grown, and we’ve grown as an institution. We have no education space. We rent out separate properties every summer to do our classes and camps for kids."

The new theater will accommodate seating for 299, the same as the current location, but the pandemic and its repercussions will play into the construction. "You have to have much more public space, more space per person and be very cognizant of the mechanical systems and the fresh-air exchanges that we have and how the air is purified, how the surfaces are cleaned," Ferris said. "All of those things are going into the design of this because we’ve all learned big lessons in this pandemic."

Other plans include adding a restaurant and a cafe that can operate beyond performance hours.

When asked how much the entire project would cost, Potter joked "$33." While he said there might be some "give and take" on a specific number, the cost of the land alone was about $13 million.

At the same time, it might be impossible to put a price tag on the value that the new location will bring to Bay Street. "When people say, 'Who does Bay Street compete with?' I always say we compete with the great beauty around us and the outdoors, and that’s really the truth," Mitchell said. "In the summertime on any given nice day, people come for our beautiful water, our beautiful sunshine. That is the No. 1 element for me in creating a theater that works for everything we want to do."

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