Cherry Lane Theater Is Back on the Market After Sale Falls Through

It seemed as if the Lucille Lortel Theater Foundation’s purchase of the theater was a done deal in July. But now the property is back on the market.

Advertisement

Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

A contract was signed, both the buyer and seller authorized a sale announcement, but the deal — involving the Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village — was not quite done.

The sale, to the Lucille Lortel Theater Foundation for $11 million, has fallen through, Bloomberg first reported on Monday. Now Cherry Lane, the oldest continuously running Off Broadway theater in New York City, is on the market for $12.95 million.

The closing had not taken place when the deal was announced in July, Sam Rudy, a spokesman for the theater, said on Wednesday. The theater and the foundation disagreed over the price of the property after the foundation requested a valuation from an additional real estate firm while doing due diligence. (The foundation had conducted an initial appraisal of the property that supported the asking price of $11 million.)

George Forbes, executive director of the foundation, confirmed Wednesday that the deal fell through because of the valuation.

Rudy said that when the foundation challenged the theater over its price, Angelina Fiordellisi, the theater’s executive director, hired a lease lawyer. That lawyer upheld the original valuation, and in the end, the two sides couldn’t come to terms.

“The seller had always had in mind to ask something in excess of $12 million,” Rudy said, “but because of her longstanding relationship with the buyer, agreed to $11 million.”

Forbes added, “We are continuing to do research on our end and we hope that we will ultimately be able to move forward.”

Mary Vetri, a real estate agent in charge of the sale, said in an email on Tuesday that Fiordellisi had expressed a preference for a buyer with ties to the theater.

The foundation, which has been managing the 97-year-old theater for the last decade, had been set to take over the theater’s buildings. Forbes would have succeeded Fiordellisi as the theater’s executive director.

“It has been a great run,” Fiordellisi said in a statement when the sale was announced. “To stand on the stage where so many of our greatest artists, crews and theater providers have stood is to know what theater history feels like.”

The listing includes a 179-seat main stage at 38 Commerce Street and a renovated 60-seat studio theater, as well as eight apartments that are housed at 40-42 Commerce Street.

Cherry Lane was started by a group of artists who were colleagues of Edna St. Vincent Millay and has produced work by Samuel Beckett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams. Under Fiordellisi, Cherry Lane has mentored writers including Katori Hall, who won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “The Hot Wing King”; Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu, whose play “Pass Over” premiered on Broadway this summer after being presented at Cherry Lane in 2016; and Jocelyn Bioh, whose “Merry Wives,” a contemporary take on Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” ran at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park this summer.

Fiordellisi had announced plans to sell the building in 2010, citing financial challenges. At the time, she told The New York Times that the theater was operating at a deficit of $250,000.

But eight months later she reversed her decision because of a significantly reduced deficit, the support of the theater’s neighbors and a new managing agent. Cherry Lane Alternative, the resident theater company Fiordellisi established in 1997, was running a deficit of $100,000, Rudy said in July. But now, he said, the debt was retired thanks to money from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program.

Neal Brennan’s stand-up show “Neal Brennan: Unacceptable” is at the theater through Nov. 21, and that will be followed, Dec. 1-19, by Alex Edelman’s “Just for Us” — about a meeting of neo-Nazis that Edelman attended in New York.

Leave a Reply