Deuce is losing its juice.
In the latest standoff on the gaily lit block of West 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, construction has halted on the landmark, long-dark Times Square Theater, which is being redesigned and expanded for retail or entertainment use.
Stillman International Development’s project isn’t dead, it just hit the pause button. But the delay could lead to another disappointment at the colonnaded, limestone-fronted venue, which has served as a playhouse and cinema for most of its 102 years.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the block, the large storefronts that once housed BB King’s Blues Club and the city’s largest McDonald’s stand are empty. Crowds still come for The Lion King and Madame Tussauds, but numerous other storefronts remain leased.
Stillman and the nonprofit New 42nd Street, which oversees the block’s historic theaters, released the latest plan at the foreclosed site at 215 W. 42nd St. almost five years ago.
But as many such premature victories boast, it turns out that completion of the much-publicized redesign first hinges on finding a tenant before major construction can be completed.
The Times Square Theater is slated to have two additional stories on top and a dramatic glass box cantilevered over the 42nd Street sidewalk.
Powerhouse Colliers broker Bradley Mendelson, who had previously lured several large tenants to the site, only to have them back out of their leases, admitted what we suspected from our observations.
“Work will begin as soon as we get a tenant,” Mendelsohn said. “They don’t want to do anything that might have to be undone.”
He stressed: “Stillman is still under contract.”
Completing the work would take another year once the tenant signs off and states his demands, he said.
An online posting says the “restored, historically significant building” will feature 41,500 square feet of “dynamic multi-level retail/entertainment/restaurant/space,” “enormous glass exposure” and a fourth-floor outdoor terrace.
A lease — technically a sublease — is available for 15 years or more.
In June 2019, we reported that according to the city’s Department of Finance, Stillman and his partner, South Korean company Daishin Securities, were paying $15.8 million in rent for 73 years, including two renewal options.
Previous would-be saviors included designer Mark Eck, who walked out of the lease after five years of doing nothing with the space, and a dubious venture called Broadway 4D, which was supposed to be a musical attraction run by top Hollywood power players.