In an effort to ensure that Lynbrook’s new $21 million state-of-the-art Regal movie theater, on Merrick Road near Atlantic Avenue, will open by the holiday season, village officials have permitted the Blumenfeld Development Group’s construction crew to work on Sundays — which goes against village code.
Construction work is not permitted on Sundays unless it is a matter of necessity, according to the code. The law was designed to prevent noise from builders from impacting local churches during Sunday services.
“If they’re gonna limit the work to inside and they’re gonna be boxed in, I don’t foresee it being a problem,” Mayor Bill Hendrick said. He cited the construction company’s uncertainty of finishing by Thanksgiving on its current schedule as the motivating factor for the decision.
Village Attorney Peter Ledwith said the board permitted BDG — a Syosset-based company building the theater for the Regal Entertainment Group — to work on Sundays only if the firm’s officials promised to finish by Thanksgiving.
Dave Blumenfeld, vice president of BDG, said in an email that the construction was going smoothly despite some hiccups.
“We are very pleased with the progress on the construction of the Lynbrook Regal Theater and hoping for completion by the holidays and to celebrate the New Year with a new theater,” Blumenfeld said. “Our progress has been impeded by weather conditions, and in order to meet our deadline we are looking into the possibility of incorporating weekend crews.” Hendrick noted that the village was still drafting conditions to prevent the noise from impacting neighbors or nearby parishioners, and hadn’t given them to Blumenfeld. He added that the Sunday work is scheduled to start in May and would be limited to interior construction, such as electrical work and furnishings.
The movie theater is near two churches: St. John’s Lutheran and Christ Episcopal, both on Blake Avenue. Ledwith said he did not anticipate any issues because Christ Episcopal is currently closed, and he believes the noise won’t affect the Lutheran Church. Calls to St. John’s were not returned as of press time.
“Once they’re closed in, they can work on the inside on a Sunday,” Ledwith said. “The church is brick-enclosed, so I don’t think the noise would permeate through the walls. But if it does, the mayor would shut it down.”
Hendrick said that he was assured that the theater would likely open by Thanksgiving if the group could work on Sundays. Without the permission, it was on pace for a 2018 opening.
“I want it to open tomorrow,” Hendrick said, “because I want to see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ in a nice movie house. But they’ve done a nice job. They’re going as quick as they can and they’ve given me no problems, so I have to trust their timetable.”
The board of trustees discussed the issue at its April 17 meeting, and Hendrick emphasized the importance of completing the project. “I make a motion that we let them do their best to get open by Thanksgiving,” he said. “It would be great for us. Santa Claus comes. Movie house is open. Grand opening. Great, great holiday season.”
Another issue surrounding the construction is concern about parking when the theater opens.
Unlike the old theater, there will not be a municipal parking lot for the new one, which means a loss of 51 parking spaces. However, there will be 171 fewer seats in the new building — a total of 1,434 — and Hendrick said that parking regulations on Atlantic Avenue could be amended during peak movie hours. He added that parking lots outside the stores near the theater are vacant at night when most of them close.
Hendrick said that two parking studies were conducted before construction — one by Regal and one ordered by the village trustees — and both parties concluded there would be adequate parking.
Regal’s study included a visit to the Westbury Theater on a Saturday at 8 p.m. to see the number of cars that filled the parking lot, according to Village Administrator John Giordano. The study determined that the theater was 80 percent occupied, and based on that, Regal applied the 80 percent to the Lynbrook movie theater to calculate how many parking spaces would be needed.
“They determined that there are enough vacant parking spots in the neighboring parking lots and streets to accommodate that need,” Giordano said.
Hendrick said that since both studies were conducted more than a year ago, the trustees are pursuing a third one. Vision Long Island, a group that promotes more livable, sustainable and environmentally responsible growth on Long Island, will undertake the study.
A study proposal and costs related to it were expected by week’s end from a consultant, Hendrick said, and it would take a few months to draft the report. Nevertheless, he expressed optimism that parking would not be an issue. “I’m very confident,” Hendrick said. “We wouldn’t have started this if we couldn’t fit spaces for the cars.”