Rocco and His Theatres: Jujamcyn Head Becomes Official Owner of Five Broadway Houses

News   Rocco and His Theatres: Jujamcyn Head Becomes Official Owner of Five Broadway Houses Rocco Landesman, longtime president of Jujamcyn Theatres, became the outright owner of the five Broadway theatres that company manages on Feb. 16, the New York Times reported.
Rocco Landesman (right), with Nathan Lane
Rocco Landesman (right), with Nathan Lane Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Following the Nov. 3, 2004, death of James H. Binger, chairman and founder of Jujamcyn Theatres, Landesman revealed that he and Binger had an agreement that upon the latter's death, Landesman would buy the quintet of theatres at the net asset value of about $30 million.

The reason for such a relatively low purchase price, Landesman told the New York Times at the time, is that the buildings do not come with "air rights" that would allow for lucrative real estate development above the theatres. However, the Times reported Feb. 17 that Landesman had also purchased the air rights for an undisclosed sum.

The houses in the Jujamcyn family are the Virginia, the Al Hirschfeld, the Walter Kerr, the Eugene O'Neill and the St. James. Landesman's offices are above the St. James, where The Producers is continuing its smash run.

The 57-year-old Landesman is now a rare creature in commercial New York theatre: A landlord who is also a creative producer. He has been president at Jujamcyn since 1987.

"We have a lot of debt to repay, and we will be pretty cautious in the short term," he told the Times . "But in the long term, we will be more adventurous. You're always cautious when you're using someone else's money." Prior to his appointment as president of Jujamcyn, Landesman produced the Tony-Award winning musical, Big River, and prior to that he taught dramatic literature and criticism at the Yale School of Drama. He has written articles and reviews for many publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He serves on the boards of the Municipal Art Society, The Actors' Fund and the Times Square Business Improvement District.

The Shubert Organization and the Nederlander Organization are the other major players who own and operate most of the remaining Broadway theatres.

Jujamcyn derives its name from the names of James and Virginia Binger's children, Ju[dith], Jam[es], and Cyn[thia]. The Bingers launched the enterprise in the 1970s, when Virginia McKnight Binger's father, William L. McKnight, gave them two theatres he had acquired two decades earlier.

Virigina Binger died in 2002. James Binger, 88, died at his home in Minneapolis Nov. 3. The cause of death was reported as cancer.

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