By: PETE WALTON
Nearly eight months after a group of movie industry veterans and local residents announced plans to buy and reopen the former Beach Cinema in Bradley Beach, the property is still listed for sale.
Sackman Realty lists the one-time Palace Theater and the land at 110 Main St. with an asking price of $1.675 million. The listing agent is Patrick Schiavino.
“Zoning will allow for retail, restaurant, gallery, professional office and residential on upper floors,” according to the listing.
The theater operated briefly as The ShowRoom Cinema Bradley Beach after extensive renovations by owners Nancy Sabino and Michael Sodano, who closed it, and the original ShowRoom Cinema on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park in September of last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
As 2021 began, a group of industry professionals, investors, and area residents calling themselves Cinema Lab said they wanted to reopen the 106-year-old movie house as The Bradley this summer.
“This theater is a vital part of the history of Bradley Beach, and an essential cultural center which has been devastated by this pandemic,” Arianna Bocco, president of AMC Networks’ IFC Films, said at the time. “As a year-round resident, I could not be more thrilled to work with an amazing group of passionate film professionals to save this landmark as a movie theater for our entire community to enjoy.”
“The potential for a professional entertainment group for the theater couldn’t be better news,” said Mayor Larry Fox when the project was announced.
A month later, Fox told a Borough Council workshop meeting that Cinema Labs had asked the borough “to enter into a financial arrangement of $42,000 annually over the next seven years to assist them in their renovations in exchange for defined benefits for residents,” according to the minutes of the Feb. 9 council meeting.
Reaction to the proposal was swift and mostly negative.
Though all four council members joined in a resolution of support for the reopening of the theater, none would immediately commit to borough funding. Several members pointed to the fact that many borough businesses were struggling because of the coronavirus response, and that it would be hard for the council to support one private venture financially while not offering help to others.
According to the minutes, “Mayor Fox [said that] if a business presents a valuable proposition that provides reciprocity to the town, he feels that it would be worthy of considering.”
Of the residents at the meeting who commented on the subject of borough funding, 10 said they opposed it while only one was in favor.
A Cinema Lab online fundraiser met its goal of $50,000 shortly after announcing its plans. Paul Neshamkin, president of the Bradley Beach Historical Society, said at the workshop meeting that he felt $300,000 could be raised quickly from investors, indicating that he would be happy to be one of them.
Arianna Bocco of Cinema Labs called the online response “phenomenal,” but said that $300,000 would not be “an easy thing to raise.”
As of Tuesday of this week, the Kickstarter page “The Bradley Cinema” had 332 backers pledging $65,090 for the project.
Cinema Lab’s website continues to feature the Bradley Beach project and Bocco has expanded her involvement in the local community, having been appointed by Fox in May as an alternate member of the borough Planning Board.