NEW YORK CITY-After a level of wrangling fit for a theatrical drama, the proposed Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center received its best hope yet of going forward on Thursday during a meeting of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. The organization pledged to commit $1 million to hire staff or consultants to research the cost of building the center, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The funds approval will enable construction to begin by 2017 and possibly set the stage for a 2019 opening, said Maggie Boepple, director of the center, to the Journal.
“This is a push-off for the project,” she said. Boepple did not respond to a call from GlobeSt.com seeking comment.
As previously reported,the center is slated to be designed by famed architect Frank Gehry—the mastermind behind 4 Times Square and Forrest City Ratner Co.’s New York by Gehry—and was initially expected to include a 1,000-seat theater, a secondary theater, rehearsal spaces, classrooms, a public cafe, outdoor plazas and administrative space. Previously, the venue was slated to sit in the Deutsche Bank building but plan changes have moved the facility to One World Trade Center.
The project has run into some financial trouble but LMDC has earmarked an additional $99 million for the construction and design below ground, according to the Journal. The above-ground construction will be funded with private money through fundraising, she said.
The center’s future recently became jeopardized after construction costs were estimated to be $450 million and some bureaucratic red tape got in the way of the center’s ability to hire staff. However, the LMDC Board has addressed these issues by scaling back the project’s size and costs, Boepple told the Journal.
“We’ve taken out things our theater consultants told us were not essential, like lots of offices,” she said. “It’s easier and cheaper to rent offices in the surrounding area. We also took out a floor that would have been a rental floor for parties.” The adjustments, she insisted, “bring the cost down to something that is realistic. I don’t know what the final number will be but it will be money that we believe we can raise.”
The project’s price tag will ultimately come in below the initial estimate of $400 million to $500 million, she pledged.