Even in a city known for large construction companies, the project was fraught with risks, from possible damage to the ornate interior to the possibility of the entire theater crashing to the ground. But it was a crucial part of a $ 2.5 billion transformation of the building, which will include a 661-room hotel and an outdoor stage facing Times Square when it opens next year.
By 1913, the 1,700-seat building occupied most of the ground floor between West 47th Street and Broadway, drawing hundreds of visitors eight times a week to see musicals like “Annie”, “Sunset Boulevard” and “West Side Story”. But offering only live theater was stifling an even bigger source of revenue: the tens of millions of tourists who flock to Times Square in a typical year, eager to spend money in the shops.
Annual retail rents in Times Square, close to $ 2,000 per square foot, are typically among the highest in the nation. The pandemic depressed the area, which attracted just 35,000 visitors a day on weekends in spring 2020. But two years later, that number jumped to 300,000, according to the Times Square Alliance, a coalition working to improve and promote the district.
To take advantage of some of this potential revenue, L&L Holding, the lead developer of the TSX project, has made arrangements with the owner of the theater, the Nederlander Organization, to elevate the building and fill the void with three floors of new commercial space, part of 10 retail floors in the tower. The theater will have a new entrance on West 47th, as well as a new lobby, marquee and backstage area.