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.”