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Has Investing In Times Square Properties Become A Bad Idea?

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Once upon a time, owning a property in Times Square was a statement of intent for super-rich businesses and individuals. It showed the world that you were a big deal, you were going places, and you could afford to be on a stage where everybody was going to see you. It was never cheap – and it still isn’t – but once you’d put together enough money to make your investment, the investment was generally seen as safe. So long as your business idea was viable, you were never likely to lose money with a Times Square property. There were simply too many people walking around with too much money to spend for that to be the case. 

Based on the way things have gone for the past three years, that may now have changed. We’ve been partially blinded to it by the success of the biggest businesses and venues, but Times Square real estate is on its knees. For more than thirty-six consecutive months, prices have been falling, and foreclosures have been increasing. Without a sudden and sharp turnaround – which there’s no obvious sign of at the time of writing – three or four years from now Times Square could be a half-empty shell of what it used to be, and we’ll all be wondering what went wrong. 

Businesses come and go, and so do trends. There have always been companies that move into the area when the products or services they have to sell are in high demand and then leave it again when that demand has dropped. Someone else always comes in to take their place. We’d consider that to be part and parcel of regular trading. What can’t, in any circumstances, be considered part and parcel of regular trading is the news we’ve seen in the past two weeks – the retail tower and hotel complex at 20 Times Square, which once had a value of $2.4bn, is to be foreclosed. Over ninety percent of the retail space within the building stands vacant, and there simply isn’t enough money coming in to pay the bills. 

One large building – even one as prestigious as 20 Times Square – isn’t necessarily indicative of a larger trend. We have to look further afield to see signs of that, but we don’t have to look too far. As sporting brands in the United States of America go, they don’t come much bigger than the National Football League. When they partnered with Cirque du Soleil to create the NFL Experience in 2017, it was seen as being as close to a can’t-miss attraction as anyone could ever encounter, and yet it missed. It didn’t even last two years. Not enough people turned up, and the $8m-per-year rent required to keep the four-story attraction open couldn’t be met. 

If luxury hotels and popular sporting attractions can’t be relied upon to make money in Times Square, that begs the question of what else might be under threat? There are world-class casinos in Times Square, and they’ve been there for many years. Even high-end casinos are under threat as we head into the 2020s because of the rise of websites offering online slots. Generally speaking, a quality online slots website like Rose Slots takes a lower house edge that a brick-and-mortar casino, and offers a better range of casino games. They also don’t charge entry fees and allow people to play online slots from the comfort of their own homes. Even Las Vegas has felt the pinch from the internet, and as the websites become more advanced and sophisticated, the threat is only going to increase over time. Restaurants are under threat, museums and sporting attractions are under threat, and casinos are under threat. Is anybody safe, and can anything be done to stem the tide of losses? 

The broader picture certainly doesn’t look good. During the third quarter of 2018, 22% of all retail space in the Times Square area was available to be leased. By the end of the third quarter of 2019, that figure had risen to 31% – almost ten percent in one year. At that rate of decline, Times Square will look like a ghost town by the middle of the 2020s. The lights might still be on because advertisers want to pay for the space, but the buildings will be empty. If there’s nowhere for people to go, there will no longer be any point in visiting the area. At that point, the decline would likely become terminal. 

Some of the companies and individuals who own properties in the Times Square area may now be counting the cost of poor investment advice. As recently as five years ago, rental prices were rising steadily year after year, and investors (as they seemingly all-too-often do) made the mistake of believing that the trend would carry on forever. That made them unconcerned about taking on large mortgages because the rental income would more than cover the costs. Without anyone in their buildings to cover the costs, investors have to find the money from their own pockets. The effects of that can already be seen. Trepp LLC, a research company, has reported that five major Times Square properties are subject to delinquent mortgages, and might be foreclosed in the near future. A further nineteen have either reported financial difficulties or are believed to be in danger of also becoming delinquent. 

The obvious solution to the problem is for current property owners and landlords to reduce their rental charges and make it more attractive for other businesses to move into the area and pick up the slack. That’s a sound plan, but it has one major drawback – many property owners cannot afford to reduce their asking price for rent. If they did, the rent wouldn’t be meeting their mortgage obligations, and they would be losing money on their investments even when their properties were tenanted. We may, therefore, be about to see a series of high-profile sales of buildings in the Times Square area, with heavy losses incurred in the process of those sales. The new owners, with their smaller mortgages, may then be able to offer more attractive rental rates to potential tenants. The foreclosure issue in Times Square may eventually get better – but every available piece of evidence suggests that it’s likely to get a lot worse before that happens. 

Cabaret

My View: Carole J. Bufford…”You Don’t Know Me”. ( Now We Do)

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Her show is titled “You Don’t Know Me” and if anyone in the Palm Beach audience didn’t know Carole J. Bufford before, they certainly do now after her exciting performance last night at Cafe Centro.

Carole J. Bufford, award-winning cabaret star and powerhouse vocalist, returned to Cafe Centro last night with a tribute to the fearless, fabulous females of the 1960s. With the music made famous by Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Carole King, Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, Nancy Sinatra, Cher, and more, Carole and her quartet put their own inimitable spin on those great song classics in her show You Don’t Own Me. Her electrifying  musical tour de force celebrated a time of great change and transition in America and across the pond.

As Carole noted, the musical and cultural landscape was never the same after these bold and daring women planted their flags and ensured their voices were heard.  Well, Carole Bufford’s voice was authoritatively heard in West Palm Beach last night as she took charge of each song and brought the music of the 60’s back to life.  The moveable spot in the club illuminated this dynamic entertainer thrilling each table in a room filled with her Palm Beach fans.

Ms. Bufford’s good friend and co-producer of the evening Sandy Fisher introduced Carole to the enthusiastic Cafe Centro audience.

Next up in the Fisher/Sorokoff Cabaret series is Dawn Derrow on March 12, and on April 24th one of the hottest acts in show business “The New Belters” Seth Sikes & Nicolas King will be bringing their music to  Cafe Centro.

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

HERE’S CAROLE!

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

CAROLE J. BUFFORD & SANFORD FISHER

STEPHEN SOROKOFF & CAROLE J. BUFFORD

EDA SOROKOFF, GIO MOLLA, RON ABLE, SANFORD FISHER

ROB RUSSELL, CAROLE J. BUFFORD, RON ABEL

DAWN DEROW & CAROLE J. BUFFORD

JEFF LEIBOWITZ & ROB RUSSELL

SANFORD FISHER & ISANNE FISHER

PETER CALO

CAFE CENTRO

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Events

The Acting Company Honors Stephen McKinley Henderson and William H. Wright II

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The Acting Company (Kent Gash, Artistic Director; Devin Brain, Producing Director; Erik Schroeder, Managing Director) is proud to announce that Stephen McKinley Henderson will receive the John Houseman Award Honor, and William H. Wright II will receive the Joan M. Warburg Award Honor, as part of The Acting Company’s “Fantastic Journeys” Gala on Monday, April 29. Additional details and performers to be announced in the next few weeks.

This one-night-only event will celebrate more than a half a century of developing emerging actors by bringing classics and new plays across the US on fantastic journeys that have changed the American cultural landscape. The evening will include a cocktail hour that begins at 6:30 PM, followed by a silent auction, special guests, performances, dancing and a gourmet dinner.

“The Acting Company is thrilled to honor exemplary Actor, Director, Mentor and Professor of Acting, two-time Tony Award nominee, Obie Award winner, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Lifetime Achievement Award winner Stephen McKinley Henderson with the John Houseman Award,” said Artistic Director Kent Gash. “A veteran of theatre, film and television, Mr. Henderson has created an impressive body of work originating varied and indelible roles for nearly 50 years, written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights August Wilson and Stephen Adly Guirgis among many others. Without the work of Stephen McKinley Henderson many of us would not have careers. He is the gold standard of excellence that we aspire to reach.”

Tickets and tables for the “Fantastic Journeys” Gala on Monday, April 29 are available for purchase by calling 212-258-3111 or by visiting https://theactingcompany.org/gala.

Stephen McKinley Henderson has worked on stages throughout the United States and abroad, on and off Broadway, and in television and film. His eight Broadway performances include Between Riverside and Crazy (Tony nomination), Fences (Tony nomination), A Raisin in the Sun, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and A Doll’s House Part 2. Off-Broadway roles include LAByrinth Theatre Company’s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Second Stage Theater’s Jitney (Drama Desk, Obie, and Audelco awards for outstanding ensemble). He is the 2023 recipient of the Drama Desk’s Harold Prince Lifetime Achievement Award. His stage directing credits include Signature Theater’s Zooman and the Sign, Ali! in New York, London, and Atlanta, and The Meeting for St. Louis Black Repertory Theater presented at the Kennedy Center.  Stephen’s work appears in six Oscar nominated films: Dune; Fences; Lady Bird; Lincoln; Manchester by the Sea; and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. In his freshman year at Lincoln University in Missouri, a historically black institution, he auditioned for John Houseman and Michael Kahn and became a member of Group l, Juilliard Drama Division in 1968. His conservatory training continued at North Carolina School of the Arts (BFA) where he served as president of the student government and at Purdue University Graduate School (MA), where he was Director of the Drama Workshop for the Black Cultural Center. Stephen was part of a master class taught by Lloyd Richards at the Actor’s Center and he continued to study with Mr. Richards on a Fox Foundation Fellowship for three years. He is a Lunt and Fontanne Ten Chimneys Fellowship Teacher and a former Chair of the University at Buffalo Department of Theatre and Dance. John Houseman cited Stephen’s work as a student in his memoir, Final Dress, and Dr. Samuel Hay cites his work as an actor, director, and educator in his text, African American Theater, A Critical Analysis

William H. Wright II is an expert in investment banking, finance and corporate governance. Most recently, he was a managing director at Morgan Stanley, retiring in 2010 after 28 years with the firm. During his career in investment banking, he was a trustee of the Morgan Stanley Foundation. Wright has been consulted on securities regulation reform by the Securities and Exchange Commission Division of Corporation Finance and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services. He has also served on the faculties of the Ray Garrett Institute of the Northwestern University School of Law and the Practicing Law Institute. Wright is chair of the board of trustees at Doris Duke Foundation, he sits on the board of Mount Sinai Health System, Inc. and its seven member institutions, and he is a member of the board of directors of the New York City Ballet. Wright has also served as senior warden of St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and is currently a vestryman of Trinity Church Wall Street. He is also treasurer and a member of the board of trustees of Historic Hudson, as well as of the

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Cabaret

Sex and the City’s Candace Bushnell Returns to Café Carlyle

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Iconic author and creator of “Sex and the City” returns to Café Carlyle with her new one-woman show titled “True Tales of Sex, Success and “Sex and the City”, April 23 – 27. Across five performances, the original Carrie Bradshaw takes us on a whirlwind tour of New York City, from Studio 54 to “Sex and the City” to “Lipstick Jungle” and beyond, sharing her remarkable philosophy through stories of fashion, literature, and sex while pouring Cosmos in Manolos.

Candace Bushnell is the critically acclaimed, international best-selling author of ten books, including Is There Still Sex in the City, Sex and the City, Summer and the City, The Carrie Diaries, One Fifth Avenue, Lipstick Jungle, Trading Up, Killing Monica and Four Blondes. With each book, she has deepened her range, but with a light touch that makes her complex literary accomplishments look easy. In August of 2021, Sex and the City, published in 1996, celebrated its 25th anniversary. The book was the basis for the HBO hit series and two subsequent blockbuster movies. Lipstick Jungle became a popular television series on NBC, as did The Carrie Diarieson the CW.

Through her books and television series, Bushnell’s work has influenced and defined more than two generations of women. She is the winner of the 2006 Matrix Award for books (other winners include Joan Didion and Amy Tan), and a recipient of the Albert Einstein Spirit of Achievement Award. Bushnell’s work has famously appeared in Vogue, Esquire, The New York Observer and many other publications.

Her successful one-woman show premiered at the legendary Bucks County Playhouse then moved to off-Broadway at the Daryl Roth Theater in 2021 to rave reviews. Bushnell’s show success has taken her to the UK, before returning to where it all began in New York City.

Notably characterized by First Night Magazine as “an evening of pure joy and entertainment” and “a celebration of Candance Bushnell’s career and the importance and beauty of being a modern, independent woman” by Theatre & Tonic, Candance Bushnell’s “True Tales of Sex, Success and Sex and the City” is a chance to see the woman who started it all in the flesh.

Tickets are available online via Tock— General Seating $150 per person / Premium Seating $200 / Bar Seating $110.

Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue).

For more information and updates on these exciting events, follow Café Carlyle on Instagram @cafecarlyle and Facebook.

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Events

The Eighth Annual LOVE ROCKS NYC Benefit Concert for God’s Love We Deliver

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The eighth annual LOVE ROCKS NYC benefit concert for God’s Love We Deliver will be live from the historic Beacon Theatre in NYC on Thursday, March 7.  Executive produced by iconic international fashion designer John Varvatos, NYC Douglas Elliman real estate broker and prominent concert producer Greg Williamson and esteemed concert/events producer Nicole Rechter, and hosted by Conan O’Brien, Tracy Morgan and Jim Gaffigan, the concert will support and honor the work of the cherished New York-based not-for-profit.  The organization, which was founded during the AIDS pandemic in 1985, now addresses 200+ diagnoses with its medically tailored meals and nutrition services.  Last year, the staff and volunteers cooked, packaged, and home-delivered more than 4 million medically tailored meals to more than 14,700 New Yorkers living with and affected by severe illness.

Since launching in 2017, the annual LOVE ROCKS NYC concerts have brought together an astonishing lineup of musical talent, raising $30 million to date and helping to fund 3 million meals to New Yorkersliving with illnesses.  The benefit concert highlights the organization’s continued mission of providing life-sustaining meals and nutrition counseling for people in the New York Metropolitan area living with severe illness.  As a member of the Food is Medicine Coalition (FIMC), God’s Love we Deliver supports the coalition’s national mission while offering vital services to local communities. God’s Love has seen a 20% increase in meals delivered over the past year.

For the eighth anniversary, the LOVE ROCKS NYC 2024 all-star lineup, led by Music Director and Band Leader Will Lee (The CBS Orchestra), will feature The Black Keys, Hozier, Nile Rodgers, Tom Morello, Don Felder, Bettye Lavette, Joss Stone, Allison Russell, Emily King, Marcus King, Lucius, Larkin Poe, Trombone Shorty, Luke Spiller (The Struts), Quinn Sullivan, Bernie Williams and more to be announced.

The past seven LOVE ROCKS NYC benefit concerts have featured an outstanding array of music stars from legendary headliners such as Keith Richards, Jon Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews, Robert Plant, James Taylor, Joe Walsh, Emmylou Harris, Mavis Staples, Chris and Rich Robinson, Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, Warren Haynes, Buddy Guy, Billy F Gibbons, Ziggy Marley, Cyndi Lauper, Heart and John Mayer Trio to contemporary stars such as Andra Day, Sara Bareilles, St. Vincent, Yola, Leon Bridges, Nathaniel Rateliff, Maggie Rose, Ledisi, The War and Treaty and 2024 will keep the momentum going!

The outstanding house band will include Steve Gadd (James Taylor, Paul Simon), Shawn Pelton(Saturday Night Live), Larry Campbell (Levon Helm, Bob Dylan), Eric Krasno (Soulive, Phil Lesh & Friends), Pedrito Martinez (Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Camila Cabello), Jeff Babko (Jimmy Kimmel Live), Michael Bearden (Lady Gaga) and a six-piece horn section. Ken Dashow of Q104.3 Radio will also serve as the evening’s “voice of god.”

The evening’s sponsors are Bloomberg Philanthropies, RJKB Family Charitable Foundation and Secunda Family Foundation. Additional sponsors include Ernst & Young, JT Magen, Samuel N & Dena M Lombardo, The Campbell/Ribbecke Family, DK Display Corp., Daily Provisions, Gramercy Tavern, Shake Shack, Villa One Tequila, RWE Partners and official media sponsors iHeartMedia, Wall Street Journal, Q104.3 and Conde Nast.

God’s Love We Deliver pre-sale tickets go live on Thursday, February 8 at 10:00amET, and public tickets go live on Friday, February 9 at 10:00amET through www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, please visit: loverocksnyc.com

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Celebrity

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

McCALLUM’S FAREWELL — Last night was the NCIS show dedicated to David McCallum (The Stories We Leave Behind) and it was simply terrific. Written by Brian Dietzen, who essays Dr. Jimmy Palmer on the show, it was extremely touching and featured some great clips from past shows.

The vibrant opening theme for the show was re-cast in a memorial-type tone and worked perfectly. There was also a reference to his cat named ‘Solo’ – a fitting nod to his Man From U.N.C.L.E. costar Robert Vaughn.

McCallum was just a tremendous actor. I one met him once in Bloomingdale’s of all places and he couldn’t have been nicer. There was also last-minute cameo from Michael Weatherly, who left the show several years ago. It was just a brilliant moment and though pundits are already saying he’ll return, I don’t think it will come to pass.

There was also a letter from Gibbs (Mark Harmon) whose shadow always lingers.

A touching tribute well done on every level. McCallum will be missed tremendously; an icon for sure. 7 million viewers thought so too.

Kelly Rowland

SHORT TAKES — Last week’s kerfuffle with Kelly Rowland abruptly leaving the Today Show, where she was pegged to co-host the fourth hour with Hoda, is much ado about nothing. Gossip pundits claimed it was because her dressing room was too small and Hoda herself sort of copped to it on Monday’s show. I predict she’ll be banned from the entire show for quite some time. It was probably more of a stunt pulled by her PR-people, as she generated a heap of press. For those who don’t know: most all of their dressing rooms are small …

Kjersti Long

17-old wunderkind Kjersti Long (her “Sad Song” was just released) looks to have her Relative Space-play begin in the West End, pegged for later this year  …

Vanessa Williams will have for the role of Miranda Priestly in the upcoming musical adaption of The Devil Wears Prada by Elton John, It’ll debut in the West End shortly … SiriusXM’s Evan Levy left the station for Amazon, but has now officially surfaced at Jason Spiewak’s Noble Steed Music.

Congrats … Micky Dolenz speaks to Goldmine’s Tone Scott today about his I’m Told I Had A Good Timebook and upcoming appearance at LA’s Troubadour on April 5 … The media was ablaze Tuesday with news that director Sam Mendes would make 4 movies featuring each of The Beatles. Astonishing. Mendez is a great director and this looms as a challenge for sure. As a group they were invincible, but it’ll be interesting to see how Mendes handles each of their post-Beatles work; which had their ups and downs. Stay tuned, this is a big one …

Rod Stewart sells his catalog for $100 million? … We started watching Feud: Capote vs. The Swans -featuring a bravura performance by Tom Hollander as Truman Capote- and am loving it tremendously. Hollander’s performance is one of the best I’ve seen in years on the small-screen. Absolutely stunning with the direction by none other than the stellar Gus Van Sant. More on this brilliant series next time …

Yoko Ono

Happy 90th Bday Yoko Ono.NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steve Leeds; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Adam Sandler; Jennifer Aniston; Curt Smith; Bob Small; Andy Forrester; Rob Dickens; Daryl Estrea; Jane Blunkell; Jane Berk; Eloise Keene; Eppy; June Pointre; Ken Kragen; Kent Denmark; Mark Bego; Jake Malooley; Graydon Carter; and ZIGGY!

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