L.M.D.C. releases cultural organization short list


By Elizabeth O’Brien

On Feb. 10, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation released its short list of candidates to provide cultural programs at the rebuilt World Trade Center site.

The corporation whittled its list of 128 contenders down to 15 finalists, which include the Museum of the City of New York, the New York City Opera and the 92nd St. Y. The winners will occupy three proposed cultural centers at the trade center site.

“They all sound very good,” said Judy Duffy, assistant district manager of Community Board 1.

Organizations competing for use of the Performing Arts Center, a 100,00 to 200,000 square-foot complex slated for the northwest intersection of the restored Greenwich and Fulton Sts., include the Joyce Theater, the New York City Opera, the Signature Theatre Co., the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Tribeca Film Institute, to which C.B. 1 chairperson Madelyn Wils was recently named president and C.E.O. This center will be on the same block as the proposed Freedom Tower.

Those vying for a home at the Memorial Center, a 50,000 to 70,000-square-foot area that will be below-grade and incorporated into the larger memorial design, include the Museum of the City of New York, the New-York Historical Society, the New York State Museum, or a consortium of those and other institutions. The L.M.D.C. will also consider programming from Project Rebirth and South Portraits Productions/Story Corps.

Organizations short-listed for the cultural space, 200,000 to 250,000 square feet in one or two buildings at the southwest corner of the restored Fulton and Greenwich Sts., right near the proposed W.T.C. memorial design by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, include the Children’s Museum of the Arts, the Drawing Center, the Museum of Freedom, the New York Hall of Science and the 92nd St. Y.

“As a mainstay of New York City’s cultural community for 130 years, the 92nd Street Y has lived through many momentous events in the life of the city—none has profoundly affected New Yorkers like the attacks of 9/11, and no project will do more to raise New Yorkers’ spirits than the rebirth of the World Trade Center site and the development of a fitting cultural hub,” said Alix Friedman, director of public and media relations at the 92nd St. Y. “The 92nd Street Y is honored to play a part in this process.”

Community Board 1 has been working with the Y to open a recreation and cultural center somewhere in Lower Manhattan. On Monday, the board’s W.T.C. Redevelopment Committee passed a resolution regarding the Fulton Transit Center, saying they would oppose any future proposal to build a commercial building over the train center but would support a cultural organization there such as the Y.

“We are continuing to talk with Community Board 1 about their vision for a cultural and community center downtown,” Friedman said when asked whether the 92nd St. Y has considered creating a recreation center above the transit hub.

One of the organizations that didn’t make the L.M.D.C. short list was the Down Town Glee Club, a small but venerable institution that holds rehearsals Downtown and has performed in Midtown since the 9/11 terror attacks. Jerry Osterberg, the group’s president, wrote the proposal.

“The argument I made had to do with having choral music be part of the canon—it deserves a place,” Osterberg said.

Osterberg called the list of finalists “impressive,” and said he wasn’t surprised his own small organization was overlooked. Nonetheless, Osterberg expressed hopes that the planned cultural district would put Downtown on the map as a cultural destination.

“It’s so exciting,” Osterberg said.

The L.M.D.C. will hold interviews with finalists this month and will announce the winners in March or April.


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