It was announced in 2008 that Second Stage acquired the rights to purchase Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre. 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.
On Feb. 13, Second Stage asked the New York State Supreme Court to stop the current owners of the Hayes, Martin Markinson and Jeffrey Tick of the Little Theatre Group, from rescinding their original deal. Second Stage executives assert that the theatre's owners are attempting to seek a higher sum as real estate prices have increased since the deal was first arranged in 2007.
Markinson and Tick countered that they were not seeking an increased deal, but said that 2ST did not currently have the $25 million required to for the looming Feb. 17 closing on the property.
While 2ST has been working to secure sufficient funding to cover costs of the sale and projected renovations on the Hayes (which have swelled to $58 million), executives there said they were caught off guard when the theatre's most recent tenant, Rock of Ages, announced it was ending its run in mid-January, which effectively locked down a closing date for the sale.
Second Stage artistic director Carole Rothman and executive director Casey Reitz are seeking a 90-day extension on the closing date in order to raise the sufficient funds to close the deal. The Times reports that the Helen Hayes Theatre owners did offer 2ST an extension, one which came with a six-figure price tag. Ultimately, an agreement could not be reached. Rothman countered, telling the Times that an extension was permitted as part of the terms of 2ST's original deal with Markinson and Tick.
Tick told the Times, "They don’t have the money. That's the truth. We have a closing set up, we followed everything according to the contract."
The Times also reports that Tick indicated he has regrets about deciding to part with the intimate jewel box theatre on 44th Street. Should the sale fall through with Second Stage, he intends to remain as the owner of the Helen Hayes Theatre.