NEW YORK - From "La Cage Aux Folles" to "Beauty and the Beast", the Palace Theatre has been a mainstay of Broadway for more than a century.
Now the landmarked theater is moving, but not to a new location. It's being lifted up and the 46 story DoubleTree Hotel above it is coming down.
"We’re literally demolishing the Doubletree hotel we’re lifting the palace theater 30 feet in the air," explained David Orowitz, the Senior Vice President of Development for L&L Holding Company, which is leading the project.
The unusual $2.5 billion venture is unlike anything Times Square has seen, essentially creating a new building below, around and above the repositioned theater.
The developer says erecting the structure dubbed TSX Broadway will be a careful and complicated process. Crews will excavate and place supports beneath the 106-year-old theater, allowing the lifting to begin.
"We literally jack the theater up a half inch at a time for two to three months," said Orowitz. "We’re going to basically refurbish the entire theater."
The lifting will free up room to create retail space on the bottom floors. A new stage will be built on the third floor, but that one will be outdoors.
"It’s absolutely designed to entertain the public," Orowitz said.
The rest of the structure will also have an impact on the viewing public. A 60 story, 669 room hotel will be built above the theater and the whole thing will be clad with LED Screens making the Great White Way even brighter. The Times Square Alliance welcomes it.
"I think this is interesting because it’s a mixture old all Times Square and new Times Square and a mixture of technology and tradition," said Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins.
The Palace Theatre was built in 1913 as part of the Vaudeville Circuit. It eventually became a celebrated movie theater where "Citizen Kane" had its world premier. In the 1960s, it became a showcase for plays.
Judy Garland performed there in the early 1950's and famously sang, “Unless you played the Palace you might as well be dead."
The actual lifting of the theater won’t start for two years and the project won’t be finished for three. So the re-opening of the Palace Theatre won’t be until some time in 2022.