$100,000,000 to the PAC at the WTC


There is nothing but abundant good news in this statement released yesterday by the Mayor’s office and excerpted below. Yes, you read the headline correctly: Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. Paterson and Assembly Speaker Silver have unveiled a plan to create a $100,000,000 fund for the long-awaited performing arts center at the site of the World Trade Center, where the Joyce Theater was selected to be the primary tenant back in 2004.

Challenging economic times notwithstanding, this is the right investment at the right time — a critical time, in fact, for as I reported for Back Stage in January, civic leaders warned time was running out for the physical work to be done on the site in order for a performing arts center to actually be built. So the $100 million, which is leftover federal funds relating to the aftermath of the events of Sept. 11, is all about laying the groundwork, physically and in the civic sense, for such an arts structure to rise. Voices were strong and sustained on this one — and I’m especially pleased that the statement from the Mayor’s office included a reference to Community Board 1, whose chair, Julie Menin, has been an outspoken advocate for the arts center for some time now. (In the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the announcement yesterday, Menin argued that the PAC should not rise for one tenant — a very good point. So here’s to the idea of a total reexamination of the PACs tenants, and to the possibility that one day another theater company might join the roster.)

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Here’s the statement, in part:

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Federal Funds Directed to Lower Manhattan Would Be Allocated Directly to the Performing Arts Center

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Governor David A. Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced an agreement to create a $100 million fund for the Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center site with federal funds directed to Lower Manhattan. The performing arts center is part of the Master Plan for the Redevelopment of the World Trade Center and is expected to serve as a cultural anchor for Lower Manhattan. This is part of a process for defining priority uses for the remaining Federal money. Federal funds will also be used for Lower Manhattan utility infrastructure upgrades and economic development, transportation, cultural and community projects, including the East River Waterfront Esplanade and Piers Project, upgrades to Water Street, small business development, the completion and maintenance of parks and transportation improvements. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the entity responsible for signing off on the federal allocation, will work to develop detailed proposals for these priority projects, and will solicit public input. The Board is expected to vote on these proposals at its next meeting in November.

“Our collective desire to put $100 million towards the development of the Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center site makes clear that the cultural venue is a critical part of the ongoing revitalization of Lower Manhattan,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation will work to finalize the details regarding this and other allocations for key infrastructure, development, transportation and open-space projects that will be made possible because of these federal funds. In the meantime, I want to thank Governor Paterson and Speaker Silver for working with us on a unified vision for Lower Manhattan’s continued growth, and the LMDC board, Chris Ward and the Port Authority and Lower Manhattan’s elected officials and advocates for their efforts to help us achieve it.”

“I am pleased that $100 million has been appropriated for a Performing Arts Center in Lower Manhattan, and that the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Board is working to award all of the remaining federal funds that were allocated to revitalize this community,” said Governor Paterson. “These funds will help to transform Lower Manhattan, while attracting small and big business, improving the conditions of our streets and parks, and welcoming visitors from other parts of the City and from all corners of the world. I commend the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Board, Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Silver and all of our partners for guaranteeing that Lower Manhattan will come back stronger than ever before.”

“I am tremendously pleased that this $100 million commitment clearly paves the way for this long-promised performing arts center, which will be a cultural jewel for Lower Manhattan,” said Speaker Silver. “I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for his strong support and for realizing how important this is to the rebuilding of my Lower Manhattan community following the tragedy of 9/11. We are creating a world-class venue for music, dance and the performing arts that will be a celebration of the vital cultural life of our Downtown neighborhood. I thank Governor Paterson for his support and I commend Chairman Schick, President Emil and the LMDC Board for moving ahead with this project. I also salute Community Board One for its unflinching commitment to this important and wonderful performing arts center.”

…In 2004, the internationally-recognized Joyce Theater was selected to be a prime tenant in the Performing Arts Center. Since that time, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has worked closely with the Joyce Theater, the City of New York, the Port Authority, and other stakeholders to develop a design for a Performing Arts Center (PAC) that will be capable of hosting a broad range of performing arts and will fit seamlessly into the complicated confines of the WTC site. In 2006, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Board allocated up to $55 million in funding for the Performing Arts Center. Gehry Partners – working in collaboration with HOK Architects and Faithful + Gould – has developed a design for the building containing a 1,000-seat theater, a secondary theater, rehearsal spaces, classrooms, a public cafe, outdoor plazas and administrative space. Below-grade coordination work was begun in 2007, and engineering drawings for the foundations were completed in 2009. Earlier this year, the Port Authority began construction of the Performing Arts Center foundations and associated utilities as a part of its ongoing work at the PATH Station.