New Off-Bway Midtown Theatre Complex Planned

group of legit producers has confirmed plans to build a new theatre complex on a W. 37th Street site near 10th Avenue, beginning early next year. Demolition has already begun on the garage currently occupying the site, to make way for the new seven-story theatre structure, which will be completed within a year and a half if everything proceeds as planned.John Averitt, a Manhattan-based architect who has restored several classic buildings in New York, including the Union Square Theatre, designed the 37th Street complex with four performance spaces. One theatre will hold audiences up to 499 people, another will hold 450, and two will hold 199. Although only a few blocks away from the Broadway theatre district, the performance spaces will be designated Off-Broadway venues. The partners in the new enterprise are Alan Schuster, manager of the Union Square, Orpheum, and Minetta Lane theatres; Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Seller, producers of Rent on Broadway; Dan Markley of ad hoc productions [sic]; and Harriet Levy. Schuster spoke with Back Stage about the project, but cautioned that all details are not as complete as Id like.Schuster said the performance spaces would be built with orchestra pits, so they can be used for musical and non-musical projects. He also said attention is being paid to the needs of the performersAs a theatre manager, Ive been listening to actors talk about what they need backstage for 22 years, so I have a pretty good idea of they wantas well as the needs of audience members. The whole building will be accessible to people with disabilities, he confirmed, and the design addresses the bete noir of a majority of theatregoers: We will put in more womens restrooms than the code requires, he promised. In addition, the building will hold administrative offices and rehearsal spaces.The current budget for the project is $15 millionPetty cash, he jokedand is likely to follow the lead of the American Airlines Theatre in raffling off naming rights to the highest bidder.We are crassly commercial and will do anything for money, except for the things we wont do, he laughed. We are looking for a prestigious company, but its not something were doing right away. It will probably be one of the last things we d