Times Square Theatre of 42nd Street Finds a Tenant

News   Times Square Theatre of 42nd Street Finds a Tenant
 
The Times Square Theatre—the only remaining historic theatre building on 42nd Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue which hasn't been reclaimed as a working theatre or reshaped as part of a commercial enterprise—has finally found a tenant.

The one-time home of the original productions of The Front Page and Private Lives will be inhabited by Ecko Unlimited, the hip-hop clothing and lifestyle company, the New York Times reported.

Ecko will transform the building into a four-level, $25-million showcase of clothing, art, video games, electronics and "collectible sneakers," the Times said.

The theatre's 25-foot-high proscenium arch will be preserved, as will the domed ceiling and the ornamental plasterwork.

Ecko hopes to move in in early 2006.

Earlier this year, the Times Square Theatre was decorated with a banner entreating interested retail entities to call a realtor's number. Inside, construction crews prepared the former theatre for inspection and tours. Part of the process included the removal of the 42nd Street Development Project, the construction organization which had an office on the building's stage. Pest-infested seat cushions were also removed, though the decorative framework that held the rows of seats in place was preserved and put into storage. Ecko's arrival dashes hopes that the Time Square would return to service as a working theatre. The Times Square was built in 1920 by the Selwyn brothers. The wide, colonnaded front was designed in the Adamesque style by architects de Rosa and Pereira. Important productions included The Enemy, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Strike Up the Band. In 1934, the Times Square began showing movies.

The house, which once seated 1,057, has been eyed be a wide variety of suitors over the years. In the late '90s, the now defunct Canadian producing giant Livent was selected to build a 500-seat theatre, "first-class" restaurant and office space at the venue, beating out proposals by the World Wrestling Federation, the Laugh Factory comedy club, and entrepreneurs who wanted to open a restaurant with a Roman gladiatorial theme. Livent's subsequent legal problems and liquidation eventually killed those plans.

The New 42nd Street is charged with the oversight of the Times Square, as well as the other historic theatres on the block, including the Victory, Selwyn, Lyric, Liberty, Empire and Apollo.

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