Volume 22, Number 33 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 25 - 31, 2009
Leader of the PAC
The leaders of the Signature Theatre Company may not have felt lucky when they got booted out of plans for the World Trade Center Performing Arts Center in 2007. Back then, they may have thought they were losing a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work with renowned architect Frank Gehry, who is designing the W.T.C. PAC. The Signature leaders like actor Edward Norton may even have been a bit jealous of the Joyce Theater, the dance company that was chosen to remain as the sole cultural tenant at the W.T.C. site.
And now — how the tables have turned. Construction conflicts at the W.T.C. mean that work on the performing arts center won’t even start until at least 2015, so Joyce’s dancers won’t take the stage there until 2018 under the most optimistic scenario. The city has not committed any money to the project and has no plans to start fundraising anytime soon.
Meanwhile, the city announced this week that the Signature is getting its own brand-new theater in Midtown, in the base of a new 59-story residential and hotel tower. This arts center will also be designed by Gehry (perhaps he can recycle some of what he hasn’t been able to build yet at the W.T.C.?), and the city has already agreed to contribute $25 million to the project. Finally, compared to the W.T.C. PAC, the opening of the new Signature Center is just around the corner: 2012. We’re guessing that if anyone is jealous now, it’s Joyce.
Hovitz vs. Hughes?
A new candidate could be stepping up to run for Community Board 1 chairperson when Julie Menin steps down in June. Menin has already endorsed Vice Chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes as her successor, and no definite challenger has emerged yet, but several board members told UnderCover this week that Paul Hovitz could make a strong candidate.
Hovitz may have a sizeable contingent of support in Southbridge Towers, where he lives, and on the Youth and Education Committee, where he was chairperson for many years.
Asked about his plans this week, Hovitz grinned. “It’s possible,” he said of a run.
Hovitz did not voice any direct criticism of Hughes, but he hinted that he would be better at presiding over the full board’s often-contentious meetings.
Speaking of Julie Menin, the Community Board 1 chairperson is now taking her battles to the Internet. Two days after Menin felt the heat in a discussion at the board about whether to hold the 9/11 trials Downtown, she vented her frustration on her Huffington Post blog. Menin supports Attorney General Eric Holder’s plan to put the trials Downtown, but other board members opposed the plan at the full board meeting Dec. 15, after hearing from about a dozen local residents who want the trials held elsewhere.
“Interestingly, some of the most progressive and liberal activists say they do not feel that the rule of law and importance of holding a free and open trial should trump the concerns they have over security,” Menin wrote two days later on her blog. “Ironically, they side with many Republicans who argue that the trials should be held in military tribunals,” even though the federal courts have a better record on convicting terrorists, Menin wrote.
Menin’s comments appeared to be a dig at board members like Allan Tannenbaum, a counterculture veteran who photographed and was friends with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. He has also documented the illnesses of 9/11 rescue workers and at the Dec. 15 community board meeting, Tannenbaum made an emotional appeal for a military tribunal rather than what he called a “show trial.”
Ultimately, the board voted to table a resolution opposing the trial location until Jan. 20.
Downtown’s new breakaway political club has a name: Lower Manhattan Democrats. “We actually settled the biggest issue — the name,” David Reck said with a smile. “It turned out to be very controversial.” Other contenders were Progressive Democrats of Lower Manhattan and Lower Manhattan Progressive Democrats.
It sounds like the new club will go by L.M.D., for short, as opposed to LoMaDem, since that could get confusing, plus it sounds like some kind of medicine.
When L.M.D. was first suggested, potential member Robin Forst, who works for an L.M.D.C. subsidiary, the L.M. Triple C, mentioned possible confusion with the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.