Stillman reveals pricey revamp of long-shuttered Times Square Theater

It’s the latest act for a space that has sat vacant for decades

Roy Stillman and 217 West 42nd Street (Credit: Stillman Development and Google Maps)
Roy Stillman and 217 West 42nd Street (Credit: Stillman Development and Google Maps)

Stillman Development is planning a $100 million makeover for one of the last vestiges of old Times Square.

The company and its partner, the South Korean financial firm Daishin Securities Co., are renovating the long-shuttered Times Square Theater at 217 West 42nd Street to draw in entertainment-focused retailers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“We wanted to design a project that would be insulated from the risks of e-commerce,” company president Roy Stillman said.

Stillman last year signed a 73-year lease for the space, and plans to restore its architectural features while lifting the theater’s limestone façade by five feet to create higher ceilings on the ground floor.

The developer will also construct a two-story glass box and outdoor space.

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It’s the latest act for the theater, which opened in 1920 as a Broadway playhouse until it was later converted into a movie theater. In the mid-2000s, fashion retailer Ecko Unltd. signed a lease at the property but never opened a store.

In 2014, a group called “Broadway 4d” leased the property, but then walked away after paying rent for nearly four years. And last year a deal fell apart for a Singapore-based entertainment and multimedia company to lease the space.

Meanwhile, the city is struggling with vacant storefronts, though Times Square has remained resilient. Vacancy rates fell to 15.6 percent in the second quarter from 22 percent in 2016, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

Colliers International’s Brad Mendelson, who has long worked on the theater space and is handling leasing for Stillman, said the developer is targeting major brands like Apple, Amazon and Coca-Cola.

“The trick is you have to give the shopper a reason to go,” he said. “Otherwise the internet is easy to work.” [WSJ] – Rich Bockmann