Activists balk at NYU Provincetown Playhouse repurposing

December 09, 2010 03:37PM

Community activists are set to protest outside the Provincetown Playhouse theater at 133 Macdougal Street between West 3rd and West 4th streets Saturday at noon, according to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which is organizing the event.

The protest centers on what the non-profit group calls a “misrepresentation regarding the supposed preservation” of the historic site by New York University. The structure, which protesters say is now “entombed within a newly built NYU Law School” facility, was recently repurposed for university use. The Provincetown Playhouse, considered a seminal part of theater history, is being feted by NYU on Saturday in a so-called re-opening open house.

John Beckman, a school spokesperson, said he was stunned by the protest.

“Only in Greenwich Village could a university get the near unanimous endorsement of its local community board for a building project, the support of its local elected officials, the endorsement of the community newspaper, build a building that leaves 20 percent of as-of-right square footage on the table, spend millions to retain a historic theater’s original walls and restore a working theater with state-of-the-art tech equipment to the Village and still be greeted with a protest,” Beckman said.

NYU has drawn considerable ire from community preservationists recently for its planned expansion in Greenwich Village. The controversy centers largely on the school’s 2031 plan, which aims to add 3 million square feet of new campus facilities. TRD