Photos by Stacie Joy
At some point today, marshals are expected to seize the connected buildings at 78-80 St. Mark's Place, forcing owners and upstairs residents Lorcan and Genie Otway to vacate the property between First Avenue and Second Avenue ahead of a sale via a bankruptcy court.reported, the Otways have been battling in recent years to save the space, which houses a 199-seat theater, the William Barnacle Tavern and the Museum of the American Gangster.
Per this December 2021 story in The New York Times, Lorcan said that the theater, which his father bought and started in 1964, and its companion businesses were in good financial health until March 2020 and the start of NY State's PAUSE.
More background from the Times:
Shortly before then, he had taken out a $6.1 million mortgage against the properties to settle an inheritance dispute, pay legal fees and finance needed renovations. With the pandemic lockdown and a precipitous decline in revenue, that loan went into default and was purchased by Maverick Real Estate Partners about a year ago. The firm, according to court documents, has closed over 130 distressed debt transactions, with a total value of over $300 million.
The Times reported that the original lender later sold the debt to Maverick, which raised the interest rate from 10% to 24% without Lorcan's knowledge. The deficit reportedly ballooned to $12 million, and they filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 in December 2021.
Last night, EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by the former Prohibition-era speakeasy for — possibly — a last look at the historic East Village venue.
New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs has also reportedly supported the theater's survival efforts. The office has already expedited granting a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status to Historic 80 Saint Marks Inc.
To date, more than 5,000 people have signed a petition to save the space.