The Real Deal New York

Is this 42nd Street theater under a real estate curse?

Yet another deal to revive long-vacant playhouse has fallen apart
By Rich Bockmann | August 28, 2017 12:35PM

217 West 42nd Street and Cora Cahan (Credit: Google Maps and Getty Images)

Someone should check and see if an actor invoked the Scottish curse at the long-vacant Times Square Theater On 42nd Street.

Yet another deal has fallen apart to lease the roughly 25,000-square-foot theater at 217 West 42nd Street that has sat empty for more than 25 years, the property’s landlord told The Real Deal.

Earlier last year, the New York Post reported that a Singapore-based entertainment and multimedia company had leased the space, which is overseen by the state-city Historic Preservation Committee.

Leasing agent Bradley Mendelson, who at the time was with Cushman & Wakefield, declined to confirm or deny the name of the tenant, but told the newspaper that there was, indeed, a tenant in place and that the “approvals process is complicated.”

But Cora Cahan, president of The Nonprofit Organization The New 42nd Street that controls the theater under a 99-year lease, told TRD that a lease was never signed. She said the tentative deal fell apart when the prospective tenant failed to gain approvals from the city and state to build the space out.

“There were some financial challenges, and they were unable to fill the obligations even prior to the lease being signed,” she said.

Cahan said she and Mendelson, who is now at Colliers International, are in talks with another prospective tenant who would renovate the property for a non-theater use, but declined to comment further.

It would mark at least the fourth attempt to revive the 1,032-seat former playhouse between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

Fashion designer Marc Ecko had a five-year lease on the theater that ended in 2009, but never actually opened anything in the space. And in 2012 a group called “Broadway 4d” leased the property in a deal that won Mendelson and his partner Alan Schmerzler a Real Estate Board of New York retail deal of the year award.

But the tenant walked away from the space after paying rent for almost four years.