The Deuce is losing its juice.
In the latest setback to the gaily-lit block of West 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, construction has ground to a halt at the landmarked, long-dark Times Square Theater, which is being redesigned and expanded for retail or entertainment use.
The project by Stillman International Development isn’t dead, it only hit the pause button. But the delay could augur yet another disappointment at the colonnaded, limestone-facade venue that served as a live playhouse and cinema for most of its 102 years.
Elsewhere on the block, meanwhile, large storefronts formerly home to BB King’s Blues Club and the city’s largest McDonald’s stand empty. Crowds still come for “The Lion King” and for Madame Tussauds, but numerous other storefronts remain up for lease.
Stillman and the nonprofit New 42nd Street, which oversees the block’s historic theaters, announced the latest plan at the jinxed site at 215 W. 42nd St. nearly five years ago.
But as in many similar premature victory boasts, it turns out that completing the redesign widely shown in the press first depends on finding a tenant before major construction can be completed.
The Times Square Theater is supposed to have two additional floors on top and a dramatic glass box cantilevered over the 42nd Street sidewalk.
Powerhouse Colliers broker Bradley Mendelson, who previously lured several major tenants to the site, only to see them back out of leases, acknowledged what we suspected from our walk-by observations.
“Work will commence as soon as we have a tenant,” Mendelson said. “They don’t want to do anything that might need to be undone.”
He emphasized, “Stillman is still in the deal.”
Completing the job would take another year once a tenant signs on and spells out its requirements, he said.
An online post says the “restored, historically significant building” will have 41,500 square feet of “dynamic multi-level retail/entertainment/restaurant/space,” “tremendous glass exposure,” and an outdoor terrace on the fourth floor.
A lease — technically a sublease — is available for 15 years or more.
We reported in June 2019 that according to city Department of Finance Records, Stillman and its partner, South Korea’s Daishin Securities, are paying rent of $15.8 million for 73 years, including two renewal options.
Previous would-be rescuers included designer Marc Ecko, who walked away from a lease after five years of doing nothing with the space, and a dubious enterprise called Broadway 4D, which was supposed to be a musical attraction helmed by top Hollywood power players.