Landmark on Main Street
Partners in Performing Arts
Organization Background

Landmark on Main Street, Inc. is the product of more than ten years of visionary planning and dedicated work by the citizens of Port Washington. It developed out a commitment to preserve an historic landmark, the Main Street School, and to enhance community life. A unique model of community development, Landmark is a collaboration of civic-minded individuals, government, business, and not-for-profit organizations all sharing the belief that a community's commitment to a richer cultural, recreational, civic, educational and social life and the celebration of diversity benefits the quality of life for all.

Landmark on Main Street opened in November 1995. The 87-year-old former school was converted into 59 units of affordable senior housing, a two-acre Town Park and a 25,000 square foot Community Center. A complex mix of government and corporate funds augmented by private contributions financed the $11.5 million acquisition/renovation. The area's limited rental market and high cost of construction jeopardized the existence of essential local service organizations and inhibited their expansion. The Community Center provides affordable space for not-for-profit organizations for both long-term and per diem usage. Landmark's centralized location and proximity to public transportation (on a major bus route and within walking distance of the railroad station) makes it accessible to teens, non-driving adults, seniors and visitors.

Historical Development of Landmark

The 1984 announcement that the Board of Education would close the Main Street School resulted in the formation of two independent citizen groups. One sought to expand recreational and cultural opportunities for children and create an indoor playground, pool and teen center. By surveying the community they learned that many shared their sentiments. The other group was formed for the purpose of creating affordable housing for seniors who could no longer afford to live in Port Washington. Both groups identified how to acquire public funds to accomplish their goals. They saw the Main Street School building, already designated an historic landmark and a beloved part of Port's history, as the place where these goals could be achieved. In 1986 the two groups merged and incorporated.

Landmark's founders clearly and frequently informed the community of their goals and asked for its help in realizing them. They also researched ways they could acquire the property and hired a consultant (funded by a planning grant) to explore the feasibility of their plan. They lobbied members of the school board on a regular basis both publicly and privately reminding them of their commitment to preserve open space. Leaders explored all strategies for accomplishing their goals and concluded that acquisition of the property could best be achieved if the local municipality agreed to participate. Discussion and collaboration with the Town of North Hempstead ensued and spanned two different administrations. In 1990, the Town agreed to enter into a contingency offer to purchase the property to develop the Landmark project pending a report from their own consultants. One year later, the school district and town entered into a conditional contract pending approval by district voters and Landmark's acquisition of requisite funding. In December 1991, after an exhaustive referendum campaign, voters overwhelmingly approved the Landmark plan.

Landmark entered into a relationship with a team of professionals consisting of an experienced housing developer, a builder, an architectural firm and a local property management company. Planning funds were secured from a local foundation. Leaders continued to mobilize community support for Landmark's goals. They embraced local non-profit organizations seeking to make their home at Landmark. Once it became clear that available funding would not be sufficient for the community center portion of the building Landmark launched a Capital Campaign to raise the needed $2 million. Local philanthropists and governments were solicited. Within several months, a $1.1 million block grant and $250,000 in private contributions were secured. In December 1992, a plan and funding package were identified. The next two years were spent completing the Capital Campaign and developing plans that would best suit the interest of all parties. Construction began in 1994 and was completed in 17 months.

Landmark on Main Street, Inc. is the coordinating agency that makes the collaboration of tenant organizations possible and holds the project together. Without the benefit of any direct tax-based revenue, the organization is responsible for 40% of the total cost of operating and maintaining the Landmark Building. Its full-time Executive Director, in addition to working as a liaison to the tenant organizations, oversees and coordinates rentals of common building space including a 425-seat theater, gymnasium and meeting room to tenants and community groups, plans community-wide programs and centralizes outreach and communication to the people of Port Washington and beyond. The core group that dreamed of, planned and created Landmark is rich in expertise in fiscal planning and development.

It is estimated that, on any given weekday, over 600 members of our community (children, teens and adults) come through Landmark's doors to attend programs in the theater, run by our tenant organizations or to participate in activities held in the rentable spaces. The Jeanne Rimsky Theater at Landmark on Main Street is vibrant with concerts, speaker-engagements, shows, body-building competitions, dance performances, meetings and birthday parties. As our marketing campaign grows and word spreads, more and more local organizations, businesses and families are utilizing this wonderfully versatile space.

Landmark continues to work every day on fulfilling our founders' dreams of "enhancing the spirit of the community!"










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232 Main Street, Suite 1, Port Washington, NY 11050  |  Tel: 516.767.1384  |  Box Office: 516.767.6444  |  Design: AD Lubow
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