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Stars align to hoist historic Times Square theater for mixed-use project (Construction Drive)

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Dive Brief:

  • The final beam for TSX Broadway, a $2.5 billion, 46-story mixed-use development overlooking Times Square, was installed on Feb. 9, New York City-based real estate developer L&L Holding Company and Fortress Investment Group said in a press release shared with Construction Dive.
  • The 550,000-square-foot project broke ground in 2019, and will ultimately include 100,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space, according to the release. The 105-year-old Palace Theatre is now being lifted three stories, and once in place, will get a $50 million overhaul.
  • The company is using a mechanism that is a hybrid between a structural steel shoring post and a hydraulic jack, pictured below, to lift the historic theater 30 feet to its new home in order to create the retail space underneath.

Dive Insight:

The effort to raise the theater off the ground is a “major undertaking,” said Robert Israel, executive vice president at L&L Holding Company. TSX Broadway is one of the most unique projects that the company has ever taken on, Israel said, and “the stars would need to align” for a similar project to happen again in Times Square.

The company first got permission from the theater owner to lift the owner’s dwelling and the theater. It purchased the land beneath the theater in order to make room for retail, which will go below ground level. The company is using 34 posts along the perimeter of the theater, and some on the interior, to slowly lift the building up.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a plethora of people coming to Times Square to lift theaters,” Israel said.

In order to keep the overbuilt condition of the development per New York City code, the developers had to keep at least 25% of the footprint of the old 36-story building. The company spent at least $15 million in order to maintain enough of the slab from the original building to meet the requirements of their building permit, according to Israel.

While the pandemic brought unique challenges, it had a silver lining. When Times Square emptied because of the virus, Israel said that made construction in the typically crowded area much easier. Work was only shut down for three weeks due to COVID-19 protocols because the development includes a hotel, which allowed the developers to obtain an essential jobsite classification.

“Today marks an incredibly exciting milestone for a one-of-a-kind project,” said Robert Israel, executive vice president of L&L Holding Company in the release about the topping-off. “Through the challenges of the past few years and the extensive design process, it is an honor to have watched this building rise above Times Square.” 

In addition to the theater renovation and retail space, per the release the development will also feature:

  • A 669-key hotel.
  • An indoor/outdoor performance stage overlooking Times Square.
  • Times Square’s largest outdoor food and beverage terrace.
  • An interactive LED sign that runs to the top of the structure.

The entire TSX Broadway project is expected to be finished by the end of 2022.

“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel from a construction perspective on this project,” Israel said.

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