For Sale Around the Park: Manhattan Theatre Source Building on MacDougal and 23 Washington Square North

Manhattan Theatre Source MacDougal St
23 Washington Square North

Updated– I never got to write up Manhattan Theatre Source but I liked going in there (I never saw a show there I must confess but would have ultimately). The front space was billed as a “cafe” — although there was just bottled water and other assorted drinks in a fridge and a few tables — and they’d let you use their WiFi (whether you purchased a drink or not). There was a very nice vibe from the people there the few times I ventured in. I’d been thinking that maybe they should open a real cafe on the bottom floor (I have this little obsession with cafes and coffee shops and could actually see running one!).

So it saddens me – for more than a few reasons – to hear via Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York that the theater space is closing as of January 2012:

Said one of the board members to Broadway World, “Despite efforts to save it, we have finally reached a point where we can no longer sustain the running of our space at 177 MacDougal Street. Our deficits have grown too high, and the terrible economy has badly hurt small theater companies in NYC.”

Blogger Andrew Bellware at Pleasure for the Empire has a different take on the closure. He recently wrote on his blog, “The present Board is actually and actively destroying the theater. And they’re doing it willfully–not just from neglect… The theater is not going bankrupt… It’s just closing because this Board lacks the imagination, the will, and the backbone one needs to keep a small business running.”

I could see that being true. I think this required a bit of ingenuity – even sending out a plea announcing they might have to close would seem worth a try to garner support and ideas.

Manhattan Theatre Source describes itself as follows: “manhattantheatresource is a not-for-profit arts service organization with a groundbreaking purpose: to organize and link the disparate communities within New York’s vital off-off-Broadway movement, and to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ resource center for independent theatre artists and audiences across the nation.”

Bellware is right (as he also states) that, despite the group vowing to continue on, trying to run shows and festivals without a space is not the same. We see all the time that having a physical space makes a difference particularly in real estate-obsessed New York City (which is why it makes me a little nervous and curious wondering what will arrive there next).

The theater organization is at 177 MacDougal Street but I guess they owned 175-177 and 179 MacDougal because they are all for sale for $11,950,000.  ****

23 Washington Square North

Also for sale around the corner and right across from the Park: one of the few properties around Washington Square not owned by NYU!

Since the summer, 23 Washington Square North has featured a “for sale” sign but no takers yet although the price has been reduced from $25 Million to $19.5 Million!

At Leslie J. Garfield Real Estate, the property is still listed at $22 Million although Property Shark reports that it is now $19.5 Million.

There are six (or seven) “units” in the building and it is approximately 8500 square feet. Garfield’s site says: “This home hasn’t been available for sale for half a century.”

On Property Shark, it lists the “current owner” as AJ Clarke at 1881 Broadway which is a real estate/management company (which garnered terrible reviews via Google). (Perhaps they are managing the rentals in the building? Garfield states the longest running lease left ends September 2012.)

As so much around the park is owned by NYU, I’d imagine if the university was interested in this, they would have jumped for it by now. (Probably a little steep for them – they likely grabbed the real estate around the park when it was more “reasonable.”)

The first asking price was $25 Million when first listed on June 14th of this year. Was reduced to $22 Million and now $19.5 Million. What do you think? Worth it? I wonder how much lower the price will go.

The building was built in the 1830’s.

Squirrel Visits Next Door Wash Sq North

Update, A bit more info: Okay, I just read a bit more on Pleasure for the Empire blog and came to this post on “How to Take over 177 MacDougal Street” which revealed that AJ Clarke is landlord for 177 MacDougal – in addition to either owning or managing 23 Washington Square North! (What else does AJ Clarke own around the Square and are they selling?) How odd. I think that post was written before it was announced that the MacDougal buildings were being sold. So… AJ Clarke decided to sell the buildings once Manhattan Theatre Source decided they were leaving? Perhaps?

Photo, Manhattan Theatre Source: Wikipedia
All others: Cathryn

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2 thoughts on “For Sale Around the Park: Manhattan Theatre Source Building on MacDougal and 23 Washington Square North”

  1. Theatre Source has sent out a plea, if not 2 or 3, every year for the last 5 years. They have been in constant peril of closing because 2 of their largest donors moved on to other philanthropy. So if you are saying they should have made MORE of an attempt to keep doing the same plea, I think you are missing the larger scheme of the picture. As a theatre practitioner and a volunteer at The Source for many years who closed the box office and who calculated nightly sales while there, I can tell you that the last 2 years of TERRIBLE economy have made producing at the off-off level almost unbearably difficult. So yes, the theatre has experienced a tremendous loss in rentals. We all have barely enough money to eat, much less produce theatre, even in a relatively inexpensive rental space such as The Source. You, yourself, say that you always meant to see a show there but just never got around to doing so, but ultimately you would have. 12 years? But ultimately you would have? I’m not pointing that out to be a bitch, I’m pointing that out because I’m certain there are a lot of people who said the same thing…which just sort of underscores the point that Theatre struggles!
    Bellware is wrong when he says they haven’t lost income. He’s just plain wrong. And no, the landlord did not decide to sell AFTER Theatre Source said they were closing. The landlord is not renewing their lease. Bellware is a guy who runs his film business out of the back of the space and is angry that the Theatre is not fighting harder so that he can continue to enjoy his $500/mo rent in prime Village realty, while ultimately doing nothing to actually produce theatre or run the space.

  2. Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks so much for writing with your perspective and knowledge of the situation. I appreciate it!

    Honestly, I’d walked by that space FOREVER (or at least a few years regularly) and never noticed the theater space. It wasn’t until I read something about it somewhere stating it was MacDougal that I went to seek it out. I guess I wasn’t looking ‘up’ all that time? 🙂 (Maybe the org. needed signage on the ground floor for people like me!)

    I don’t go to a lot of theater for whatever reason – I’m more tuned in to other ‘scenes’ if you will. However, I probably would have gone if I’d known about it sooner. I do follow a lot of the blogs and local city news sites and had not heard any word about the peril the space was in. That’s partly where that was coming from. I actually wrote in to the email address on the web site when I first learned of MTS and no one ever responded. That’s not that promising either.

    If the lease isn’t being renewed then I suppose they might have had to leave anyway. It’s too bad all around.

    I can’t speak for Bellware – he sounded like he knew the inner track but obviously you have another impression which I appreciate and acknowledge.

    Thank you for writing in. I hope something decent comes in the space and that your theatre and Manhattan Theatre Source both prosper in the coming years.

    best,
    Cathryn
    WSP Blog

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