Douglas Elliman Nabs Temporary 10,000-SF Lease for Pop-Opera, Opening May 1


Anita Grossberg, a commercial broker on Douglas Elliman‘s Sroka Worldwide team, coordinated a pop-up lease at 860 Washington Street for theater producers Howard and Janet Kagan, The Commercial Observer has learned.

The Kagans will bring their production Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 to a $2.5 million, 6,000-square-foot structure in what was a 10,000-square-foot vacant lot just off the High Line on Washington Street at West 13th Street. The performance space was built to resemble a Russian supper club, and will feature  a Tsarist menu, cabaret singers and contortionists in addition to the main theatrical event, which will run from May 1st through September 1st.

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Mr. Kagan had hoped to have the musical, a rock opera riff on War and Peace born at off-off-Broadway theater Ars Nova, up and running by February. Ms. Grossberg set off last October to find a performance location in the Meatpacking District. “I called parking lots, looked at different vacant lots,” Ms. Grossberg said. “One day I had a meeting with Howard on 14th Street regarding a permanent location. It was during that wickedly cold spell in January and I couldn’t wait outside. As I walked past Diane von Furstenberg on my way to The Standard I saw the lot, and it clicked.”

The performance tent at 860 Washington Street
The performance tent at 860 Washington Street

Ms. Grossberg presented the idea of bringing Natasha, Pierre… to the lot to aptly named building owners Romanoff Equities.”I had to sell it,” Ms. Grossberg said. “Last year they had a flea market there, and they told me they had other offers. We were willing to put the money down.”

Mr. Kagan, who partners with Randy Weiner (Sleep No More) and Simon Hammerstein (The Box) on the show, will pay $250,000 for the lease, which closed in late March. In September, Romanoff will begin construction of a 10-story commercial building on the site. “We’re actively seeking a permanent location [for the production,]” Ms. Grossberg said. “I need 5,000 square feet of performance space, 14-foot ceilings and no, or very few, columns.”

Meanwhile, the short-term digs should please performers, crew and audience members.  “The bathrooms,” Mr. Kagan told Ms. Grossberg, “are as nice as the ones  at Chelsea Clinton‘s wedding”