Theatre Row CenterLocation: Manhattan, New York
Client: 42nd Street Development Corporation
Services: Project Feasibility, Public Approvals, Proposals & Transactions
Theatre Row Center is a model of Washington Square Partners' role in creating public/private partnerships. In 1997, WSP was retained by 42nd Street Development Corporation, owner of 6 non-contiguous deteriorated brownstones on 42nd Street and 9th Avenue in Manhattan. These properties were being used as off-Broadway theater venues and rehearsal spaces. As originally contemplated twenty years previously, these were meant to be interim uses, but various redevelopment proposals had failed over the years. By 1997, the economic revival in New York City generally and Times Square in particular, made a new redevelopment plan possible again. WSP was engaged to devise and implement the new plan.
In concept, a sale of residential air-rights would fund replacement of the aging, outmoded theaters and support space known as Theater Row Studios (TRS) and also permit construction by The Shubert Organization of a 499-seat "transfer house" theater, the first new theater of its kind to be built in decades, and of critical importance to the entire Broadway industry.
Over a two-year period, WSP initiated, negotiated and helped document the following intertwined transactions:
• Assembled a developable site by arranging purchase of a 12,000 square- foot lot from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; negotiating construction of a cantilevered deck over an intervening property and obtaining favorable written rulings from the New York City Department of Buildings and the Department of Consumer Affairs.
• Assembled an A/E team and supervised conceptual redevelopment plans which maximized property values, accommodated multiple theater users' requirements and which could be developed "as-of-right" under New York City zoning.
• Marketed the residential air-rights opportunity to over 30 qualified developers and institutions, prepared and distributed a "short-form" RFP, then negotiated the acquisition price and other business terms with several finalists, including the Brodsky Organization, which was selected developer in 1999.
• Negotiated the scopes of construction work with Brodsky, the Shubert Organization and TRS, and obtained all required consents from the City and other interested parties.
This project - the largest Off-Broadway development in New York City history - is now completed and has spurred numerous other new projects along 42nd Street, west of Ninth Avenue.