Last year, Albert Bialek, president of real estate consulting firm Albert Bialek Associates, gained control of the Metro, an Art Deco Upper West Side landmark, from leaseholder John Souto. Souto had a 49-year lease on the property, which had formerly served as a pornography house, art-house movie theatre and two national cinema chains.
Bialek is now shopping around the building, at 2626 Broadway between 99th and 100th streets, to potential tenants, and has been in discussions since March with Wingspan Arts, a 10-year-old non-profit arts education group, according to the New York Times. Wingspan’s proposal would see the theater double in size by excavating below grade 30 to 50 feet, bringing the square footage to around 3,000 square feet.
“If the deal is successful, there will be dancing in the streets,” said Miki Fiegel Picinich, vice chairman of Community Board 7 and a broker for Bialek. The building has been empty since 2005.
Previous plans for the landmark included Urban Outfitters. The chain store had a deal in 2009 to move in, but the agreement was derailed by Souto’s litigation. Investor Michael Oliva also campaigned to have the theater transformed into a cultural center.