Stillman Development International (S.D.I.) has signed a long-term sublease with The New 42nd Street for New York's Times Square Theater, the last remaining unrestored theatre on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.
S.D.I. will renovate the former theatre, transforming the space into a multi-floor experiential retail property while retaining and restoring historic elements of the original structure, including the façade, the proscenium arch, and plaster grand dome. Plaster elements will be removed and restored off-site before re-installation, and the façade will be raised by almost five feet. The current plans also include two terraces on the third and fourth floors, large glass windows, ceiling heights of up to 20 feet, and a glass box overhang. S.D.I. will also lead the effort to find a retail tenant for the space.
Built in 1920 by the Selwyn brothers and designed by architect Eugene De Rosa, the Times Square Theater was home to such shows as the original Broadway productions of The Front Page, Strike Up the Band, and Private Lives. The theatre became a movie house in the early 1930s, operating as such until the early 1990s. The City and State of New York took possession of the venue in 1990, ultimately putting it under the ownership and protection of The New 42nd Street, a nonprofit organization established to ensure the vibrancy of 42nd Street's historic theatres.
Part of a larger effort to clean up Times Square, The New 42nd Street's efforts led to the combining of the historic Apollo and Lyric Theatres into the current Lyric Theatre (now home to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), the transformation of the historic Empire Theatre into the current AMC Empire 25, the restoration of the historic Republic Theatre into the current New Victory Theater (now home to theatre for kids and families), along with a completely new theatre (The Duke on 42nd Street) and rehearsal space (New 42nd Street Studios) built on the former site of the Selwyn Theatre and offices.
The Times Square Theater has remained the final historic theatre on 42nd Street to be redeveloped. The most recent plan would have seen the space become home to an immersive theatre-themed film experience titled Broadway 4D. Financial issues led to the demise of this plan as well, even after at least some material had been recorded for the project. Ultimately, it was determined that the theatre's layout and footprint prevented the space from being suitable as a modern theatre, which led to S.D.I.'s current contract to transform the theatre into retail space.