A Gateway marquee expansion


You can mingle with a drink in the new 40-by-60-foot bar area with its glass wall exterior in front of the barn and still view the Gateway sign behind it, say hello to friends in the enlarged lobby area that will hold 300, also encased with a rounded glass wall, and find more parking with walkable paths and other bells and whistles when Bellport’s own Suffolk County Performing Arts Center completes its expansion.

The hope is that the state-of-the-art 3,300-square-foot addition to the Gateway will start in November, thanks to a Suffolk County SMART Small Business Downtown Investment Program grant for $1,450,000 issued last October and a $500,000 grant from a private donor.

“The new entrance is a floor-to-ceiling marquee vestibule that will provide more mingling space,” explained executive artistic director Paul Allan. “Right now, the lobby holds about 100 people. We’ll still maintain the outdoor areas.”

Allan said 50 more parking spaces will be added on Gateway land, parallel to Maplewood Avenue.

But Allan explained, more funding will be needed above the grant costs.

Like about $1 million.

“Once you change the footprint, there are added costs, including items like updating the existing fire, electric, septic systems,” Allan said. “We’re also adding patron sidewalks and landscaping.

“The high quality of our shows doesn’t match with the look of our facility, and we want it to equal that.”

Plans are currently displayed in the lobby. Allan announced the expansion during the “Rock of Ages” premiere last week, citing help from Legis. Dominick Thorne as well as a letter of support from Bellport mayor Maureen Veitch.

“Our private donor liked the plans,” he said. “The comment was, ‘It still looks like Gateway.’”

Partner Michael Vandrei, of Hoffman Grayson Loizides Vandrei + Vandrei Architects LLP, said five of his staff worked on the project.

“At the [‘Rock of Ages’] opening, we had five boards in the lobby to show what the outside would look like and a conceptual site plan that included parking. We have a preliminary design and made an application to the village; there is also a civil engineer involved to do the site work.”

Vandrei said the design was produced in collaboration with Paul Allan and his team.

“It was actually Scot Allan and the Gateway team who suggested a window above the bar to see the original Gateway sign,” he said.

“We’re in discussion with the planning board, who will tell us whether the site plan meets village code or needs relief from a zoning perspective.”

Vandrei’s firm seems to be a natural for the project; his firm has designed prominent theaters: the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, The Paramount in Huntington, The Space at Westbury Concert Hall. “We have a passion for it and have done a lot of work for nonprofits, including The YMCA Jorge Healthy Living Center in Huntington.”

Shows will continue during the expansion work.

Paul Allan said the project’s projected completion is June 2026.

“We have a preliminary plan for staging,” Allan said. “We’ll work on the expansion during the downtime between shows.


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