$100 mil makes P.A.C. seem like a reality

BY John Bayles

Lower Manhattan is now a step closer to having its own version of the renowned Lincoln Center. Last week it was announced that $100 million in federal funds is slated to go directly to the building of the Performing Arts Center.

After several meetings of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s Cultural Committee, which includes the likes of Community Board 1 chair Julie Menin, Kate Levin, Carl Weisbrod and others, allocating the money to the P.A.C. became a reality after the city and the state came to an agreement last week.

“We met with the city, and basically the city signed off, we signed off, the L.M.D.C. signed off and we thought it was a great start on the P.A.C.,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Silver went on to say the creation of a world-class venue would help anchor the revitalization efforts in Lower Manhattan, with the goal of rebuilding into a 24/7 community.

Mayor Bloomberg echoed his remarks in a prepared statement.

“Our collective desire [to] the development of the P.A.C. at the World Trade Center site makes clear that the cultural venue is a critical part of the ongoing revitalization of Lower Manhattan,” stated the mayor.

“This is a huge victory for Lower Manhattan,” Menin said. “This is one of the great infrastructure projects we can do to create construction jobs and long-term jobs.”

For Menin, the announcement also means the formation of a 501c3 dedicated to raising additional funds for the P.A.C., is also a step closer to becoming a reality. Silver agreed.

Currently there is no entity in place designed specifically to perform that role. Menin also sits on the September 11 National Memorial Foundation board. It was originally intended that the memorial board would be in charge of raising funds for both projects. But three years ago the memorial board decided to suspend fundraising efforts for the arts center and focus instead on the memorial itself, something that Menin agrees was necessary.

“The memorial foundation has to focus on the memorial,” she said. “We need to create a separate 501c3 apart from the memorial foundation board.”

Aside from raising funds for the arts center, a separate 501c3 would be in charge of soliciting tenants for the building. Currently, only the Joyce Theater remains committed to the site. Three other cultural institutions have pulled out since the master plan was originally developed, including the Drawing Center, which has decided to remain and expand in its current location in Soho. Menin believes there is along list of possible tenants, some in Manhattan, such as the Guggenheim — and some elsewhere — that would see the P.A.C. as a perfect fit.

The allocation of the $100 million also makes a more compelling case for the private sector to invest in the center. Menin said corporations like Goldman Sachs, who are considerably invested in the neighborhood, are likely partners, but also said there are plenty of Downtown companies with foundations dedicated to the arts.