Historic Theatre 80 and 78-80 St. Mark’s Place Face Imminent Danger — URGE THE CITY TO ACT NOW!

A vital and irreplaceable piece of NYC’s history is in danger of being lost forever — the beloved Theatre 80 located at 78-80 St. Mark’s Place. On May 9, the 60-year-old theater and the 180-year-old buildings in which it’s located are to be auctioned off, almost ensuring the destruction of the theater and the historic buildings. Longtime building owners, Theatre 80 operators, and East Village cultural pillars Lorcan and Genie Otway have been locked out of the theater and their longtime home, and stand to lose the buildings forever.

Village Preservation has been working with the Otways for some time to try to save Theatre 80, a former Village Preservation Village Awardee and Business of the Month (see coverage on NY1 here). But with the impending auction, the situation is desperate. We are therefore calling upon the city to do two things: 1) take possession of the building, via eminent domain or other means, and allow the newly established Theatre 80 nonprofit to continue to operate the theater and other cultural uses here, and 2) have the Landmarks Preservation Commission designate the buildings historic landmarks based upon their incredible significance, to ensure the buildings are preserved and their history honored no matter who owns them. (Read our letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission proposing and urging landmark designation here.)

Theatre 80 and 78-80 St. Mark’s Place embody so much of the East Village’s and New York’s history, from serving as a hub of culture since Prohibition to the buildings’ connection with the earliest stages of New York’s development. Time is of the essence — we must get the city to act to save this irreplaceable gem RIGHT AWAY!


April 26, 2023