NYC's Signature Won't Be Housed in Ground Zero Performing Arts Center

News   NYC's Signature Won't Be Housed in Ground Zero Performing Arts Center A new downtown home for Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company will not be in a Frank Gehry-designed performing arts center at ground zero, the New York Times reported.

A grand plan for Signature to have three stacked venues in a building shared by the Joyce Theater has been downsized, the city announced March 27.

The Times reported that Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff said the Signature is being taken out of the performing arts center plan because of the logistical issues — to say nothing of the $700 million cost — of having two groups in the small space.

The city has proposed moving the Signature to Fiterman Hall at 30 West Broadway, near 7 World Trade Center. Damaged on 9/11, the building is undergoing renovation. It's part of the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

The price tag of the planned performing arts center, near the planned Freedom Tower on the site of the World Trade Center, was reaching $700 million, the city said. The new plan that would accommodate the Joyce and Signature (in independent spaces) would cost about $350 million combined, it was reported.

James Houghton, artistic director of Signature told the Times: "The city said it was going to be too costly to do it, and I think they're right. Frankly, it's refreshing to get this straight talk about it. I don't think anyone wants to build a $700 million performing arts center." Once overseen by the the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the plans for rebuilding and revitalizing ground zero were taken over by the city in 2006.

The Times reported that the city investigated the Fiterman Hall location before suggesting it to the Signature. Other buildings in the World Trade Center area were also considered. Signature is also looking at two other CUNY sites downtown. Houghton told the paper he preferred Fiterman Hall, as it's near the performing arts center and the new transportation hub.

The Signature, which devotes an entire season to the work of one playwright, presents at the Peter Norton Space on West 42nd Street. Its lease is up in 2011.

The not-for-profit Equity troupe is currently celebrating the work of the late August Wilson with King Hedley II (to April 22). For more information, visit www.signaturetheatre.org.

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