World Trade Center arts center faces uncertain future

Non-profit board waiting for de Blasio to weigh in on $469 million project

The planned performing-arts center at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan faces stiff competition for funds.

A pet project of Mayor Bloomberg, who appointed the first members of the managing non-profit’s board in 2011, the $469 million project now sits in limbo while Mayor Bill de Blasio comes to a decision about the future of the planned center.

The center is not only competing with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum for government funding, but more prominent arts projects for private donations, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“We are still considering how this should fit into the broader redevelopment strategy for the World Trade Center site,” a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio told the Journal.

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The current plan for the center calls for the construction of three small theaters ranging from 150 to 550 seats. Those theaters would host a mix of theater, music and dance. So far, a total of $155 million in federal funds have been allocated, the Journal reported.

The center’s director Maggie Boepple declined interview requests from the Journal, and a spokesperson said only that no arts organization will know what new Mayor Bill de Blasio is thinking until he appoints a cultural-affairs commissioner. Board Chairman John Zuccotti, co-chairman of Brookfield Office Properties, also declined to comment to the Journal.

A previous version of the planned theater envisaged a building with 1,000 seats in a structure designed by architect Frank Gehry. Whether Gehry will be involved now is unclear, according to the Journal.

The nonprofit hit a snag in 2012 when $1 million in seed money from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. was delayed, and ran a deficit of $41,360 out of a $299,102 budget that year, according to federal tax returns and audited financial statements from the state attorney general’s office cited by the Journal. [WSJ]Julie Strickland