The Performing Arts Center (PAC) slated to be built across from 1 World Trade Center may still be years from fruition, but it got a significant boost this week with the allocation of $100 million in funding. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Governor David Paterson, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced on Wednesday that the board of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) had decided to spend at least that much on the PAC from the pool of federal funding Congress granted to them for post-9/11 redevelopment.
The PAC is being designed by Gehry Partners, in collaboration with HOK Architects and Faithful + Gould, to feature the Joyce Theater, an internationally-acclaimed modern dance company which is currently housed in Chelsea. No additional cultural tenants have been selected yet, but Gehry’s design includes plenty of room for others, with a secondary theater, rehearsal spaces, classrooms, administrative space, a café, and outdoor plazas.
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Although the city views the PAC as a “critical part of the ongoing revitalization of Lower Manhattan,” according to a statement released by Mayor Bloomberg on Wednesday, its future looked hazy until recently. Before the LMDC’s vote on Wednesday, only $55 million of the PAC’s planned $450 million price tag had been allocated, and the public had learned that construction could not begin in earnest until the Santiago Calatrava–designed transit hub is built, putting the estimated completion date for the PAC somewhere around 2014.
Julie Menin, chairperson of Manhattan’s Community Board 1 and LMDC board member, has been at the forefront of the push to allocate LMDC funds to the PAC, arguing that it is one of the best uses for the money in this economic climate. “When the city faces unemployment of 9.5 percent, the single most important thing we can to is to retain and create jobs,” Menin told AN. “That’s what building a large infrstructure project like the performing arts center does.” However, given the constraints on the current site, Menin has been simultaneously campaigning for the location of the PAC to be moved to a new site at 130 Liberty, on which construction could begin immediately. The move would also reduce total estimated construction costs from $450 to $325 million, Menin said.
The $100 million allocation will not be official until a vote at the next LMDC board meeting in November, before which time it will be put up for discussion at a public meeting. The ultimate amount of funding could exceed $100 million, according to the LMDC. However, the remainder of their $200 million redevelopment funds are also needed for other priorities including incubating small businesses, developing cultural programs, subsidizing affordable housing, and building the 9/11 memorial.