Catching up on the interactive theater for William Street

I am a little late on this but here it is for the record: CB1 rejected the application for “Sleep No More,” the interactive theater venue planned for 20 Exchange Place aka 18 William. The board said the event space would create “enormous negative quality of life issues” in an “already saturated small neighborhood, coupled with a traffic plan that does not come close to addressing any type of workable management.” (I have to note that the hand-drawn area map that came with the application showing every local business is really cool.)

The community board does not have the final word, of course — that rests with the State Liquor Authority. An applicant cannot legally apply until 30 days after filing their 30-day notice with the community board, and even then, they can take their time if they want (or even ditch).

Emursive, as the theater production company is known, was created by Jonathan Hochwald, Arthur Karpati and Edward R. Weiner in 2010, when they created a fictional hotel in West Chelsea to tell an interactive version of Macbeth. This iteration would take over 100,000 square feet across seven floors with a public assembly capacity of more than 1,500 and a maximum occupancy of approximately 3,500, in addition to approximately 150 for cast, crew, and staff members. The show, where the audience travels from room to room, would cover the mezzanine, ground/1st floor; basement, cellar, sub-cellar 1, sub-cellar 2, and sub-cellar 3.

The performance space is planned for three floors exclusively and there would be three bars:

  • One with 38 tables and 141 seats including 9 bar seats and cocktail tables
  • One with 12 tables and 65 seats including 38 bar seats at cocktail tables
  • One with an oval-shaped 43 foot stand-up bar

Patrons will be allowed to carry their alcoholic beverages throughout the entire seven floors.

The company would also run a daytime bakery out of the space from starting at 6a and running till 6p, when it would be converted to one of the cafe spaces for the performances.

In its decision, the community board noted that there are 1400 residential units adjacent to 20 Exchange Place, including 762 in the building itself. And many of those residents already complain that there is chronic sidewalk congestion, problems with vehicle mobility and garbage collection, and pedestrian safety issues. William Street itself is only 14 feet wide and built for the colonial era. (I must note: yes, old New Amsterdam streets, but the buildings are certainly not from that era…)

I don’t think this is over. Stay tuned.