05 October 2007

You Can't Tear HoJo Down That Easily

The death of the Times Square Howard Johnson's was one of the catastrophes that inspired this blog. So it's been an irritant that the poor restaurant has been sitting there, a crumbled heap of bricks, with an ugly blue fence around it, and no structure rising to replace it. If they wanted to kill it so fast, then what's the hold-up?

Well, Curbed sheds a little light. As the construction workers were bashing away, they ran up against this protuberance which seemed to belong to the building next door. That building? The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, home until recently of "Beauty and the Beast," delight of tasteless parents and kids everywhere. The secret brick room within the HoJo was actually the downstairs refreshment bar at the theatre, a bar that the Lunt owners were still using every night to sell overpriced cokes to tourists. Those owners are the Nederlanders, and the Nederlanders don't let go of anything they own easily. Screech! Work came to a halt.

So, WTF? Even for New York, this is weird. Why did part of the Lunt-Fontanne poke out into HoJo land? Well, the Times, which is good as this fusty real estate history stuff, explained: "The bar is a vestige of the old Globe Theater, whose main entrance ran through a brownstone building on Broadway. When the Globe, which opened in 1910, was renovated and renamed the Lunt-Fontanne in 1958, the Broadway entrance was closed. Its owners later sold the Broadway building but, through a property easement, held on to the small section that now contains the bar."

How deep in the City records was that document?

Anyway, the two parties finally came to a deal. The bar will be demolished and then rebuilt. Whew! Now, we can finally get that Niketown built!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sad to see the staircase-prints of the old Gaiety Theater (although, ew), and Harlequin Rehearsal Studios on the wall there too. Harlequin (although filthy) was one of the only "old school" rehearsal halls left - the kind you see in movies with the old switchboard and all. The windows looked out through the tangle of steel and Times Sq billboards.