The potential site, on Amsterdam Avenue between 66th and 67th streets, formerly housed the American Red Cross's New York headquarters. It was recently sold to A. & R. Kalimian Realty, a developer that has met with New York City Opera officials, city planning commissioner Amanda Burden, and architect Christian de Portzamparc about the possibility of building a residential tower anchored by an opera house.
According to the Times, Burden spoke of the project in an interview "as if it were all but certain." But City Opera president Paul Kellogg said that "nothing has been determined one way or another."
Portzamparc, who won the Pritzker Prize in 1994, is best known for the multi-building arts complex Cit_ de la Musique outside Paris. He also designed Louis Vuitton's North American headquarters on 57th Street in New York.
New York City Opera has been looking for several years to leave the New York State Theater, which was also houses New York City Ballet and was designed with dance in mind, with a sloped stage and sound-deadening acoustics. The company applied to be part of a new performing arts center at the former site of the World Trade Center, and was considered a leading contender at one time, but was rejected in favor of the Joyce Theater and the Signature Theatre Company.
The backers of the Amsterdam Avenue project still have a number of obstacles to overcome, including finding funding and getting the approval of various city agencies. In addition, the Times says, the Red Cross site is not zoned for the tall building that planners are currently envisioning. In order for such a tower to be built, Lincoln Center would have to transfer some of its air rights to City Opera.
If City Opera does move, Lincoln Center would be left with the problem of filling several empty months at the New York State Theater. Possible new occupants include the American Ballet Theatre and a new modern dance company under the leadership of New York City Ballet's Peter Martins. If a new tenant is not found, City Opera would be obligated to pay its lease through 2014.