New York State In-depth

Opportunity Knocks: New Phoenix Theater on the Park

A real gem of a building is up for sale, in one of the most revered neighborhoods in the city. 95 Johnson Park, home to The New Phoenix Theater on the Park, is, sadly, up for grabs. I say sadly because the building – built in 1884 – has been home to one of city’s most beloved theater groups since 1996. The reason that it was called the “New” Phoenix Theater was that it was named after The Phoenix Theater in Montreal (see history of building and theater). Before it transitioned to a theater, it was home to a séance house, a vaudeville house, and also a soup kitchen.

It was Richard Lambert who stewarded the building, and the theater company, for over three decades. To think of Buffalo without the New Phoenix, and without Lambert for that matter (he has retired to St. Petersburg)… is somewhat unbearable, as they have have both become Buffalo institutions. Plus, Johnson Park is reserving of retaining a cultural element of this caliber.

Now, the matter of the building is at hand. What will become of this fascinating and beloved cultural destination in the heart of Downtown Buffalo? The listing for 95 Johnson Park is as follows:

CALLING ALL VISIONARIES, INVESTORS, ENTREPRENEURS! Theater and apartment on a park. Walk through this historic showpiece and imagine the great potential this unique property has to offer. On the first floor is a proscenium stage w/ a flexible seating floor-plan, a wet bar, replicated after NYC’s “The Carlyle,” lobby check-in station & wheelchair-accessible restroom. A grand second floor space (30×88) w/ lavatory used as a rehearsal hall, offices, and studio is waiting for your adaptation. The third floor (24×82) is a 3 bedroom apartment that spans the 2/3 building w/ appliances, full bath. 8, 849 sq.ft. of Buffalo history is poised to take on a major role in downtown’s resurgence. Walking distance to all city amenities. Its city park location offers an idyllic tree-lined stroll of yesteryears’ architectural beauties while offering an ultra hip urban vibe. Additional street parking on Carolina St., back entrance of park. New roof (2019) Zoned N-2R Mixed Use.

Hopefully someone with some real vision, and a love of history, will purchase this magnificent theater building. Perhaps there is a theater group that has been looking for an ideal setting for rehearsals and performances – or maybe a consortium of theaters might want to take a look at it? It would also make for a great café with a cultural bent – theatre, dance, and/or live music. Whatever the future of this building beholds, it would be great to see it stay in the public realm.

The New Phoenix Theater building is being listed at $480,000.

View the listing.

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