Madison Theater to Close for Cleaning, Potential Sale

In a recent Times Union article, the 88-year-old Madison Theater in Albany, will close January 1 for an extensive wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling cleaning and improvements.

Founder and president of Tierra Farm, Gunther Fishgold, who owns the Madison Theater and its two connected businesses hinted at two potential buyers for the property. The two potential independent interested parties plan to keep the Madison a theater. There is some talk that one of the interested players will make the venue into a “mixed community space” for live performances. Tierra will announce any potential deal near the end of January.

Fishgold commented on the upcoming potential sale, “I really can’t be specific, but I have a couple of interesting deals in front of me that would keep the integrity of the theater and be much more responsive to the community.”

The Madison opened in 1929. Tierra purchased the building in Sept. 2013. The company spent over a million dollars on a new outside marquee along with several other exterior and interior upgrades.

Keeping the integrity of the historic movie venue is important to Fishgold, which almost became a CVS Pharmacy drive-through in 2004. He said Tierra’s main objective was to always save and preserve the historic place more than making money. He stated, “It’s not a money-maker. It’s never been a money-maker for me … It really was a placeholder for someone who could come in and do a better job than we could, as a nut-and-fruit company running a theater.”

Fishgold also talked about the possibility of what would happen if both potential deals fell through. He said he would figure out a way to continue to operate the venue and may lease parts of the building, rather than try to operate several different businesses under the same umbrella. When talking about the other businesses attached to the building, Fishgold said: “Someone’s gonna run a better coffee shop than I run. Someone’s gonna run a better restaurant than I run. No one’s gonna run a better nut business than me, but all three of those – theater, restaurant and coffee shop – can be done much better. It’s such a thriving neighborhood. I’m not doing it justice.”

Asked whether he would just abandon the venue: “No, I don’t want to leave the community high and dry after all I did to this space. And I won’t, I won’t.”