The Carefree Theatre has traded hands for $3 million, completing a deal that will allow a New York financier to raze the old theater and build a complex featuring a new theater on the West Palm Beach site.
An entity called 2000 SDH LLC paid $3 million for the site, according to a deed recorded Oct. 28, Palm Beach County records show. The land’s sale took place on Sept. 21, but real estate developer and film aficionado Charles Cohen waited until October to record a deed because he needed an unused parcel of land from the city of West Palm Beach to complete the assemblage.
The deed lists the sale of 2000 and 2020 S. Dixie Highway, plus 309 Barcelona Road in West Palm Beach, county records show. The seller, Stoll Property Realty Corp., sold off the theater building, a parking lot and a historic home on Barcelona Road.
As previously reported, Cohen plans to tear down the old, damaged theater. In its place, Cohen plans a center combining commercial spaces, homes and a theater.
Cohen, who leads Cohen Media Group, plans to show art, classic and foreign firms from the company’s collection. The collection includes a range of films, including several directed by Buster Keaton. Last month, Cohen Media acquired a 30-film library known as the Merchant Ivory films, including “Howards End,” “Maurice” and “Heat and Dust.”
The Carefree Theatre was a longtime destination for touring acts, including musicians B.B. King, Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, Tori Amos, Los Lobos, Neville Brothers and John Mayer.
Comedians stopped by, too, including Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Bill Hicks, Bill Maher and Drew Carey.
The Carefree also used to show art films, plus the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” to the delight of patrons who fondly remember the theater’s quirky vibe.
Jon Stoll, the late concert promoter who created Fantasma Productions, owned the theater. After he died from an extended illness in 2008, the shuttered Carefree remained in limbo.
Stoll’s widow, Lori, tried for years to sell the property, which was damaged in a 2005 hurricane. She finally inked a deal to sell the site to Cohen this summer.
Now that the sale is recorded, the deal is finally complete. Cohen officials are working on plans for their new project. Details aren’t yet available.
But in a previous statement, Cohen pledged to make sure the new development is in keeping with the city’s growing arts and cultural community.
A city official said Cohen indicated he planned to comply with the code and keep in line with the low-rise buildings in the area, rather than seek a waiver to build a tall project.
Cohen is a New York developer who owns the Design Center of the Americas (DCOTA), the 800,000-square-foot showroom featuring furniture, fabrics and accessories in Dania Beach. His Cohen Brothers Realty Corp. also owns other design centers and office high-rises in New York, Houston and California.