Times Square’s streets and sidewalks are turning uglier — but things are looking better higher up.
The bollard-ization of the “bow tie” area that we reported a few weeks ago has claimed another “pedestrian” plaza — the one between West 42nd and 43rd streets, where big chunks are now impassable due to excavations for mushrooming security barriers.
But it’s a prettier story upstairs. The redesign of ball-drop tower One Times Square has turned the north-facing facade from a column of stationary product signs into a flickering light show that never ends.
The installation by landlord Jamestown of a 200-foot-tall LED panel makes the 23-story facade into a visual theatrical event. Six outdated display panels were replaced with four larger ones — which can be programmed as a single unit to carry ads.
Although the One Times Square re-tooling was reported previously, its most remarkable feature went overlooked: minute-by-minute programming so that viewers won’t know what comes next. Previously, brand signs such as for Budweiser might stay up for a decade.
Now that Jamestown brought in “out-of-home” media company New Tradition as master lease-holder, “We have a new strategy that’s been very well received by advertisers,” Jamestown President Michael Phillips told Realty Check.
“The difference is that for 20 years, there was usually a 10-year contract” for each sign, Phillips said. “Now we have an interactive, 200-foot-tall sign that can be rented by the hour, the minute, or the second.”
For sure: We saw messages for Spotify, the New York Times, Gillette, Fiji Water and pistachios pop up and vanish in a matter of seconds.
Phillips said that after Jamestown bought out its former One Times Square partner, Sherwood Equities, in 2011, Sherwood “remained our agency representative” until its replacement by New Tradition.
Meanwhile, on West 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues — not technically Times Square but close enough — work’s speeding ahead on restoring and redesigning the Times Square Theater, which has been dark for 30 years.
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The $150 million project by New York’s Stillman Development International, backed by South Korea’s Daishin Securities, will give the colonnaded venue at 217 W. 42nd St. a new look for its partial retail conversion.
There will be many interior changes, but passersby will see a dramatic exterior transformation: a new, glass box, cantilevered over the 42nd Street sidewalk.
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Stillman says the glass facade will be installed and completed by 2021, whether or not a tenant has been signed. Colliers International’s Bradley Mendelson and David A. Green hope to lure one or more tech brands, entertainment users and/or food tenants.
The pledge to finish the job with or without tenants is crucial. We were skeptical at first because at least four different plans to revive Times Square — several of which we were first to report — fell through. Plus, the sneaky secret of many announced property redesigns is that the new look will appear only after tenants are inked.
But both Stillman and Mendelson answered an emphatic “yes!” when we asked whether the exterior changes would be made regardless. That’s not only good for passersby, it’s good for business. It will be easier to attract users to a site where work is visibly occurring rather than merely planned.
According to city Department of Finance records, Stillman and Daishin are paying $15.8 million for 73 years — an initial 25-year lease and two renewal options, to which a Stillman rep said they were “committed.”