Theater District: With Times Square at its center, residents adapt to living among tourists

Theater District: With Times Square at its center, residents adapt to living among tourists

Living in the Theater District is all about compromise.

It has a vibrant energy and is a convenient place to live for those who work in midtown, but it is also home to one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations.

There’s a huge amount of retail stores, but neighborly cafes are hard to come by.

And, while residents have their pick of musicals or plays to see most nights, regular tickets to Broadway shows can put a dent in household budgets.

With Times Square in the center of their neighborhood, residents have to adapt to living among the tourists. They dine out between 8 and 10 p.m., while Broadway shows are in session and local restaurants are less packed, grab coffee at Simon Sips, a cafe hidden in an office building at 1185 Sixth Ave., and look forward to the city’s offseason between January and March.

They must also accept that life in the Theater District revolves around Broadway.

At St. Malachy’s-The Actors’ Chapel, on 49th Street off Eighth Avenue, a mass is held at 11 p.m. on Saturdays for those who want to go by church after a show or prefer to sleep in on Sundays.

The church bells play “There’s No Business Like Show Business” on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.

About half the churchgoers are tourists, noted its pastor, Rev. Peter Colapietro.

“There’s a lot of new faces all the time,” he said. “As far as our regular parishioners … we have a lot of actors, actresses, people who sing in our choir, stagehands, carpenters, electricians.”

Eric Straus, 57 — the president of Transworld Business Advisors, which brokers sales of companies — has lived in the district for eight years and said he loves being so close to the Great White Way.

“At intermission I use the bathroom at my apartment, and then I walk back to the theater,” he said.

Straus added that he and his wife also chose to live here because they felt it is safe for their five kids.

“It’s always noon outside because of all the lights, and there are cops everywhere,” he explained.

But what the Theater District offers in twinkling lights, some say it lacks in a neighborhood-feel. It is void of the mom-and-pop shops found in more residential neighborhoods, and is abundant in Duane Reades.

And with its 24 hour bustle of rehearsals, tourists and performances, the nabe isn’t for those wanting peace and quiet.

Lizzy Rainer is the director of programs and evaluation at the nonprofit Artists Striving to End Poverty, which is headquartered on 46th Street off Seventh Avenue. She has worked in the area for five years and said spending so much time in Times Square is a blessing and a curse.

“It’s really nice — but also sometimes bad for my blood pressure, to have to walk through it every day,” she said.

In terms of real estate, Theater District housing stock varies, but prices are mostly high, with the median sales price at $1,603,743 in 2015, compared to $985,000 in Manhattan as a whole, and the median rent at $3,700, compared to $3,195 borough-wide, according to the listings site StreetEasy.

The district offers luxury buildings — such as 1600 Broadway on The Square which has an average sales price of $2 million on StreetEasy, and the Platinum at 247 W. 46th St. where the average is $1.9 million — along with numerous pre-war buildings.

The five-story walk-up at 852 Eighth Ave. was built in 1915 and has an average rent of $1,865 on StreetEasy, and 138 W. 46th St., also five stories, has an average of $1,900.

Despite the prices, local Citi Habitats sales broker Elena Ravich said the Theater District has thriving population of Millennial residents.

“There’s a lot of young professionals because [it’s near] the Midtown business district,” she said. “So it’s very conveniently-located for people to get to their offices.”

And many said there is a sense of community in the small neighborhood of 26 blocks, especially between residents and those who work in hospitality.

Favorite hangouts for locals include Toloache at 251 W. 50th St. for Mexican fare, Jake’s @ the Knick hotel at 6 Times Square for breakfast, and Carolines on Broadway at 1626 Broadway for dessert and stand-up comedy.

“If I go out, I’ll run into all kinds of people on the street, people from restaurants, and say‘Hey, what are the specials tonight?’“ mused Charles Kipps, a TV, movie and music producer who also writes mystery novels.

A bond is felt within the performing arts scene as well, noted Patricia Schwadron, who for 17 years has worked at The Actors Fund nonprofit, which has its national headquarters on Seventh Avenue near 49th Street.

Although many performers live outside of the district, with 38 theaters and numerous rehearsal spaces for dancers, actors and singers, it is the home to a transient performer community, she explained.

“Your community as a performer is the show you are in, that becomes your family,” Schwadron said. “It’s something about the nature of communities being formed around interests, rather than around geography.”

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