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Sag Harbor Cinema restoration fundraising falls short, backers say

The remains of the Sag Harbor Cinema are

The remains of the Sag Harbor Cinema are removed after a multiple structure fire on Main Street  in Sag Harbor, Dec. 17, 2016. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

A nonprofit seeking to buy and restore the fire-gutted Sag Harbor Cinema said it will move forward with the purchase despite falling short of its goal to raise $6 million by July 1.

The Sag Harbor Partnership has raised $4.5 million since April, when it signed a contract to buy the Art Deco theater that was destroyed in a Dec. 16, 2016, fire.

“Based on that momentum, we decided it was right to go forward, and it’s very exciting,” said April Gornik, the partnership’s vice president.

Gornik previously said the terms of the contract with longtime cinema owner Gerald Mallow stipulated the group raise 75 percent of the $8 million purchase price in pledged donations by July 1. On Sunday, she said she “misspoke” earlier and that the deadline was a “self-imposed goal” to make sure the campaign had enough support before paying a nonrefundable $1 million down payment.

The nonprofit put down $100,000 when it signed the contract in April and needed to pay the other $900,000 within 90 days, a period that ends on July 5, Gornik said. Before that date, the group could back out and get back the down payment, Gornik said.

Mallow, who has owned the cinema since 1978, said Monday he did not know the specifics of the contract but that rebuilding the cinema “would be great for the community.”

The Sag Harbor Partnership has until Dec. 31 to meet the purchase price and must raise up to $5 million more to rebuild the iconic theater in the heart of the village’s downtown, Gornik said.

The front of the 1930s cinema was demolished — leaving a hole in the middle of Main Street — after the fire that damaged four other buildings.

The Partnership wants to rebuild the lobby, and add two screening rooms and a cafe.

High-profile donors have included Billy Joel, Harvey Weinstein and Martin Scorsese, while Dame Julie Andrews is on the group’s advisory board.

Eric Fischl, a painter and sculptor from North Haven who made the largest donation with a $1 million pledge, is Gornik’s husband.

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