Cut! Theater owners cancel renovations; historic Margaretville building up for sale

By Julia Green
Jonathan Starch and David France, owners of the Galli-Curci Theatre building on Main Street in Margaretville, announced last week that they are putting the building up for sale. After four years of stewardship of the building, Starch said in an e-mail Wednesday that he and France “have decided to focus full-time on our other projects.”
Plans for development of the property were stalled by a lawsuit filed by David Budin, who owns the adjoining property on which he lives and operates Del-Sports Inc, more than two years ago. In the lawsuit, which was filed in Delaware County, Budin claimed that “adverse possession” gave him ownership of a portion of the property that would have been utilized for renovations.
Nearly 20 years ago, Budin planted 17 spruce trees along the border of the property; in the papers filed, he claimed that his care of the trees entitled him to ownership of the strip of land that originally was part of the parcel belonging with the theater building.
The lawsuit was settled out of court this past April.
Built in 1922 by Clarke A. Sanford, the Galli-Curci building was home to a silent movie house, Sanford Chevrolet, and the Catskill Mountain News. It has also been home to an antique business, offices of the Delaware & Northern Railroad, and Scoops ice cream parlor. In April of 2006, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Starch and France initially planned to convert the 8,000-square foot theater into three smaller theaters to show a variety of films. Following the resolution of the legal dispute, they said they would be taking some time to assess their plans for the building in light of the current economic climate.
The theater owners were instrumental in the organization of CICS (Community Initiative for Community Spaces) — the group that raised funds and arranged for the rebuilding of the Margaretville Village Pavilion.