Wham BAM! Theater for a New Audience project is reeling

The Brooklyn Paper
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A renowned Shakespearean theater company is taking a page out of a horror movie script rather than something written by the Bard in its long-stalled attempt to build a home in the battered BAM Cultural District — the plan appears to be back from the dead, its architect said this week.

“It hasn’t died!” said the architect, Hugh Hardy, talking about the troubled $59-million project to construct a home base for the itinerant Theater for a New Audience.

Hardy’s remarks to the Fort Greene Association on Monday night hinted at the soaring budget for the building, which started at $38 million in 2005, and the frustration that came from having the theater’s location changed twice by the city.

Later, he further explained the state of the project to The Brooklyn Paper. Though this be madness, there’s method to the plans, he said.

“It’s had a long history because of financing and having to change sites,” said Hardy, who replaced Frank Gehry on the project last year.

“It’s not ideal of course. Every project … has some sort of chronology to it and it’s all forgotten if you get it to exist. I’m confident because we’re so close to constructi­on.”

Hardy and the city said construction would begin this December. Final renderings were not available.

“The city has been so supportive of this project, it’s amazing to me,” he added.

The theater for the company, which recently staged sold-out performances of Hamlet and Othello in lowly Manhattan, will be built on Rockwell Place between Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue.

It was bounced from its original location in the heart of the so-called BAM Cultural District, on the triangular block wrapped by Ashland Place, and Flatbush and Lafayette avenues, after the Brooklyn Public Library dropped out of plans to build a performing arts branch in a glass-wrapped building by Enrique Norten on the same block.

Other projects in Brooklyn’s answer to Lincoln Center have faltered due to the recession, like a major mixed-use tower with 100 below-market rate apartments.

With other proposed buildings stalled all around this man-made cultural epicenter, Hardy said he feels lucky to be on track to break ground in December.

“That’s what makes this all the more miraculous,” he said.

Theater for a New Audience did not return calls in time for The Brooklyn Paper’s blistering online deadline.

Updated 4:53 pm, April 23, 2009
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Reasonable discourse

freddy from slope says:
lets do the math:

$59,000,000 for 300 seats.

thats $200,000 per seat.

even if you double the number of seats with some smaller additional theaters its $100,000 per seat.

where exactly is the funding and real estate coming from?
April 22, 2009, 8:42 am
Judah Spechal from Bed-Stuy says:
How does these project cost almost doubles so fast? Brooklyn is becoming such an anti development zone, I hope in a years we remember that when, economically & technologically we are in the stone age.
April 22, 2009, 10:24 am
Armsakimbo from Park Slope says:
The reporter has it wrong -- the building cost is only $46 million (Campaign also includes a $10 million endowment, but that's not a building cost). Park of the reason costs went up is that the City changed the site two times, which delayed the project and added a lot of expenses.
April 22, 2009, 12:05 pm
armchair editor from the comfort of his own home says:
No one close to this project ever thought this project was dead. In fact, the only place I ever saw that kind of reference was in the Brooklyn Paper. Why do you insist on writing like that? Is it cause Gersh used to work at the post?

freddy, most of the funding is being raised privately, like at most cultural institutions.
April 23, 2009, 9 am
freddy from slope says:

i hope you are right, but i am doubtful that the public isnt on the hook for something it doesnt need to be on the hook for. and i think fewer donors are going to part with cash of that magnitude in the forseeable future.

and what is being paid for the real estate?

by whom?
April 23, 2009, 10:27 am

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