Pictured Above: Roger Ferris & Partners’ design for the proposed Bay Street Theatre, which is no longer being considered

The Sag Harbor property where Bay Street Theater had planned to build a new, state-of-the-art performing arts center is back on the market this week, after the plans met with a backlash from the public two years ago.

Friends of Bay Street, a non-profit founded by Adam Potter, who has also been involved with other proposed major redevelopment projects in Sag Harbor, announced Jan. 12 that the group is putting the Friends of Bay Street property back on the market.

The property at 22 West Water Street is home to a mixed-use building, Water Street Shops. It will be listed for $25 million with Compass Realty’s Hamptons Commercial Real Estate Team, Hal Zwick and Jeff Sztorc.

“We have thoroughly examined the site and have determined this property is no longer viable to build a theater as originally envisioned,” said Mr. Potter in a Jan. 12 press release from Friends of Bay Street.

Bay Street Theater has been in a rented space at the foot of Long Wharf for more than 30 years, and its administrators have recently searched as far as Bridgehampton to find a permanent home on land that the theater owns.

Bay Street had planned to build a new, 299-seat theater, with a double-gabled design by architects Roger Ferris & Partners, partially constructed of wood lattice, to blur the line between indoor and outdoor space.

According to their 2021 announcement of the project, it would “be much lower than the building next door (a 42-foot-high condominium overlooking the harbor), though the design will need to be tall enough to accommodate a fly loft above the stage.”

But many members of the public, shocked at the scope of the proposed development, and by other major proposals by groups affiliated with Friends of Bay Street, came to public meetings demanding more information about the scope of change they could expect in the village.

They also expressed dismay that Sag Harbor’s 7-Eleven in the Water Street Shops would be closing after Friends of Bay Street bought the property. Mr. Potter responded by opening a new independent convenience store in the location.

Sag Harbor's 7-Eleven is slated to close this month as part of a massive redevelopment proposed for the village's waterfront.
Sag Harbor’s 7-Eleven closed in 2021, not long after Friends of Bay Street bought the shopping complex.

Mr. Potter is also a partner in a proposed mixed-use building with shops and 79 affordable apartments on what are currently five separate lots on Bridge and Rose streets.

Conifer Realty, the affordable housing developer that was planning to partner on the Bridge Street housing proposal, and financiers Smith & Henzy Advisory Group bowed out of that project in late 2022, citing financial headwinds due to increasing interest rates.

Their action came not long after after the group Save Sag Harbor sued Sag Harbor Village over its recently adopted affordable housing law that made the development possible, citing that the village had not done an adequate environmental review.

A property adjacent to the Water Street Shops, at 2 Main Street, known in Sag Harbor as “Fort Apache” for its squat appearance at the gateway to the village, was purchased for $18 million by 2 Main Street LLC, which is tied to Friends of Bay Street, not long after Friends of Bay Street bought the Water Street Shops site.

Mr. Potter said at the time that the architects for the proposed Bay Street building had said they needed the property because “we need to create access to Steinbeck Park. We want unbelievable viewsheds to the water.” 

No plans for the future of that parcel have yet been revealed.

This week, theater administrators said they’ve renewed their lease at their current location, and “the role we play as a cultural anchor for the village, for over 30 years now, will continue uninterrupted,” according to the theater’s Executive Director, Tracy Mitchell. “We are confident in our future and enjoy a loyal, enthusiastic supporter base with a robust year-round schedule.”

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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