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‘Tobacco’ smoke! St. Ann’s leader blames community and sadly talks of DUMBO pullout

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The St. Ann’s Warehouse theater company will leave DUMBO now that a federal judge blocked the city from allowing the historic Tobacco Warehouse from becoming its future home — and theater officials are blaming the community groups for getting in the way.

Artistic director Susan Feldman lashed out against organizations such as the Brooklyn Heights Association and Fulton Ferry Landing Association for suing the state and the National Park Service for secretly removing the Civil War-era structure from protected parkland so that it could be redeveloped for St. Ann’s.

In an e-mail to supporters, Feldman slammed “the callousness of the neighborhood and preservation organizations that filed the suit and then turned a blind eye to the collateral damage it has caused — to St. Ann’s Warehouse; to our DUMBO neighborhood, which we will have to leave.

“Given their lack of support,” Feldman added, referring to the Brooklyn Heights Association, Fulton Ferry Landing Association and other preservation groups, “we must devote our attention now to securing a future home elsewhere.”

St. Ann’s wants to convert the roofless structure in Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park into a $15-million performance space and plaza — but that plan came undone after federal judge Eric Vitaliano ruled last week that the park service violated rules that protect the warehouse and the neighboring Empire Stores.

Brooklyn Heights Association Executive Director Judy Stanton dismissed Feldman’s jab, saying that the law must be followed; if the city wants to privately develop public parkland, it must follow proper federal procedures.

Feldman refuses “to acknowledge that the applicable laws were not followed,” Stanton said. “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want St. Ann’s to continue what they do, but I don’t think the Tobacco Warehouse is the only place for them to operate.”

St. Ann’s will be booted from its rent-free home on Water Street next spring to make room for David Walentas’s controversial Dock Street development. The developer has allowed St. Ann’s to use the building at the corner of Water and Dock streets for a decade.

Now the only way the theater can move into the warehouse is if city lawyers appeal the case or through the publicly-reviewed conversion process with the National Park Service — which requires the state to create more park space as an equal exchange for the structures lost.

Feldman said that St. Ann’s “cannot risk a lengthy, drawn out conversion process in which the plaintiffs will continue the battle.”

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Reader Feedback

brooklyn heights res says:
Judy Stanton and the BHA are disgusting. This is a neighborhood travesty. I will no long contribute to or support in any way the BHA. Awful.
July 20, 2011, 9:33 am
Steve from Park Slope says:
That's Jim Walden for you. Fighting against cultural institutions and bike lanes.
July 20, 2011, 10 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
I like St. Anne's better when they were in the church. Why be sleazy?
July 20, 2011, 10:54 am
k from gp says:
Way to shoot yourself in the foot Brooklyn Heights.
July 20, 2011, 11:24 am
rlj from Crown Heights says:
I think what bugs me the most is the Tobacco Warehouse isn't even IN Brooklyn Heights!!

St. Ann's didn't violate the law. They had support from every involved agency, which is all that really matters -- except for the stodgy purists up the hill who stuck their beaks in! BHA manipulated the law to stop what they delusionally perceive as Walentas' unchecked expansion.

So petty and disgusting.
July 20, 2011, 1:03 pm
MML from DUMBO says:
The fact of the matter is that the Tobacco Warehouse wasn't NYC's or BBP's to give away! It was illegally de-mapped to fit into the City's scheme of private development on public land. I love St. Ann's and want them to find a new home (hope Susan Feldman is as pissed at Walentas' as the preservationists).

Boo f-in hoo.
July 20, 2011, 4:04 pm
Rick from Downtown Brooklyn says:
BHA and Judy Stanton are a bunch of old NIMBYs who cry and scream at every effort to improve Brooklyn. This is the same organization of old people who tried to stop the helicopters from the South Street Seaport area cause of too much noise during their take offs and landings....why BHA and Judy Stanton?....cause it blocked out the noise from the BQE for ya? This just shows how ridiculous the BHA is and no one should be supporting them.
July 21, 2011, 9:33 am
RL from bklyn says:
I'm a big fan of St. Ann's, but the TW space should be for everyone to enjoy even if it's just passive space for our eye's to stretch, not just for us arts types.

With all the good will St. Ann's has going now than they did when they bolted from the church and their bills, I hope they find an even better space.
July 21, 2011, 1:28 pm
k from gp says:
St. Annes, please come to Greenpoint! There are even a couple old churches for sale here.
July 21, 2011, 1:29 pm

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