Dispute Over Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre Continues, as Judge Urges for Settlement

News   Dispute Over Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre Continues, as Judge Urges for Settlement
 
The dispute over the acquisition of Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre continues, and following a meeting in New York City court Feb. 19, a judge is urging Second Stage Theatre and the Helen Hayes owners to settle their differences.

According to the New York Times, judge Joan M. Kenney called lawyers for Second Stage and the Hayes owners to her bench for talks lasting ten minutes. Afterward a lawyer for Second Stage, Robert J. Ward, said, "She wants us to sit down to try to settle. I'm trying to get my principals to come down."

As previously reported, it was announced in 2008 that Second Stage acquired the rights to purchase the Hayes. Over five years ago, the cost to buy and renovate the Broadway house was $35 million. The cost has increased because of Second Stage's plans (both artistically and architecturally) for the Hayes. It was reported in December 2014 that 2ST was in the process of raising a total of $58 million (to own and operate the theatre, produce desired works and for construction costs).

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As of Feb. 17, the planned closing date on the Hayes, Second Stage did not have $25 million required to close on the property and requested a 90-day extension. The two parties could not agree on terms of the extension.

The Hayes owners asked for $175,000 from 2ST in return for an extension through the end of March (among other conditions, including a final agreement on potentially lucrative air rights for the theatre). Second Stage rejected and countered with a request to pay $175,000 in exchange for a 90-day extension. The Times reports that Hayes owner Jeffrey Tick and his partner, Martin Markinson, rejected that proposal.

Additionally, Tick has reportedly had a change in heart and wants to hold onto the Hayes for personal reasons, following the death of a daughter a year and a half ago.

Tick and Markinson were seeking additional payment from Second Stage because a delay in the purchase agreement was depriving them of possible rental income for the Hayes. Producers showed interested in the Broadway home following Rock of Ages' close, but Tick said that it wouldn't be possible.

Second Stage's hope for the 597-seat Broadway residence is to dedicate the home exclusively to the development and presentation of contemporary American theatrical productions. The Pulitzer-winning Next to Normal and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are among the Second Stage works that transferred to Broadway.

A representative for 2ST told Playbill.com that the judge is working with both parties to facilitate a settlement and that discussions are ongoing.

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