A consortium of Broadway unions has rejected a request for concessions from the owners of the derelict Biltmore Theater, once home to “Hair” and “Barefoot in the Park.” Owners Stewart F. Lane and the Nederlander Organization, which bought the theater at a fire sale a couple of years back, are looking to make the Biltmore competitive with the bigger Off Broadway theaters, which are attracting so many playwrights these days. Failing that, the owners were ready to turn the theater over to a nearby restaurateur when the unions requested time to work out the very deal to which they have now given the thumbs down.
The unions suggested putting the Biltmore under the Broadway Alliance plan (which may itself be endangered), or developing a new plan that would be acceptable. They have indicated a willingness to continue negotiations, and so have the owners.
Still, there is some bad feeling. Asked his response to the union rejection, Lane took a very deep breath and said, “After turning down a lease deal and spending time and money coming up with various alternatives to save the theater, I was extremely disappointed that they dismissed our proposal out of hand.”
While both sides return to the bargaining table, the Biltmore sits, an eyesore in a district otherwise looking to the future.