Property buys give developer control of entire Eighth Avenue blockfront

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Curtains up — on a likely huge Midtown real estate development.

The Celtic Pub occupies one of the newly purchased properties.

Broadway’s powerful Shubert Organization has sold two precious Eighth Avenue parcels to Gary Barnett’s Extell Development, giving Extell control of a whole Midtown blockfront.

Extell paid $39.1 million, according to public records, for 738 and 740 Eighth Ave, which are the sites of a small parking lot and a larger vacant lot respectively.

The deal gives Extell ownership of the entire east side of the avenue between West 45th and 46th streets. There is another vacant lot at the block’s south end and several low-rise buildings stand in the middle.

One building is home to Playwright Celtic Pub, a popular, four-story Irish restaurant and bar with a roof deck that’s been at the location since 2000. It’s now in the development crosshairs, but Extell’s plans are unknown. Barnett didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The empty lot at the West 45th Street corner extends all the way to the long-standing Pergola des Artistes restaurant, which abuts the Imperial Theater.

The assemblage appears to be large enough for a new building of up to 1 million square feet — perhaps more if Barnett, who is a magician with air-rights transfers, is able to transfer some from neighboring properties.

The block has been the focus of much inaccurate rumor and speculation over the years. Related Companies and Boston Properties once owned parts of it but they never went ahead with a new project.

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