In 1997, real estate mogul Charles B. Moss Jr., sensing the rising property values in the Times Square area, decided to sell his holdings on Broadway between 44th and 45th streets. He promptly informed his most high profile tenant, the Roundabout Theatre Company, that it would have to find other digs by 1999.
Now, that deal has apparently fallen through. According to the New York Times, Moss and his buyer, the publishing giant Bertelsmann A.G., have had a falling out. Bertelsmann was planning to build an office tower for its subsidiary Random House above Moss' ground floor retail spaces. The agreement apparently reached a snag sometime before Thanksgiving, with both sides crying foul. Since then, Bertelsmann has begun discussions with other landlords, though neither side has declared the deal dead.
Moss did not return a call for comment.
The Roundabout currently occupies the Criterion Center at 1530 Broadway. When the theatre was given its eviction notice, it began scrambling for a new home, eventually making a deal with the New 42nd Street to take up residence in the old Selwyn Theatre.
With the Bertelsmann deal imminent, Roundabout had to vacate the Criterion by late March or early April 1999. However, the restoration of the Selwyn may not be completed until early 2000. That leaves the Roundabout homeless for up to a year. As a partial solution to its housing problem, the Roundabout recently leased the Gramercy Theatre on East 23rd Street for a year. In light of current events, however, Moss could conceivably be open to allowing the Roundabout to remain at the Criterion until the Selwyn is restored. The Roundabout refrained from commenting on the situation.
-- By Robert Simonson