Bloomberg Picks WTC Arts Board Members, Averts Massive Funding Loss

By Julie Shapiro on December 29, 2011 9:14pm 

LOWER MANHATTAN — Mayor Bloomberg named five people to the Word Trade Center performing arts center board Thursday, a last-minute move that averted the loss of millions of dollars in funding for the long-delayed institution.

The board members are: Christy Ferer, founder of video content provider Vidicom; Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1; Zenia Mucha, executive vice president of the Walt Disney Company; Larry Silverstein, president of Silverstein Properties; and John Zuccotti, co-chairman of Brookfield Properties.

First Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris will also serve on the board as Bloomberg's representative. 

The mayor's down-to-the-wire appointments came just days before the year-end deadline for creating the arts center's board.

If the board wasn't in place by the end of 2011, the performing arts center could have lost most of the $155 million it has received.

"It's critical," Menin said of the timing of the appointments. "The PAC is a vital project for Lower Manhattan. It will create immediate construction jobs…and it will create economic revitalization for the area."

The board will be responsible for raising another several hundred million dollars and overseeing the center's programming, Joe Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, said in a letter announcing the appointments Thursday.

The memorial foundation, which Bloomberg chairs, was the group responsible for picking the arts center's board, the mayor's office said.

The performing arts center has been part of the overall plan for the World Trade Center for years. The Joyce Theater, a SoHo-based dance company, signed on to anchor the planned 1,000-seat theater, and famed architect Frank Gehry drafted a boxy terraced design for the building.

But fundraising for the center never began, and its construction kept getting pushed further into the future, because of delays to other projects at the World Trade Center site.

The arts center is slated to rise at Greenwich and Vesey streets, where the temporary PATH entrance currently stands. Construction on the PAC cannot begin until that entrance is demolished, which won't happen until Santiago Calatrava's winged transportation hub opens just to the east in another several years.

Menin and others in the community have pushed for the PAC to be moved to a different site south of the World Trade Center, where it could rise sooner.

In the past, the Port Authority has not been receptive to that idea, but Daniels' letter lists the PAC's location as one of the issues the new board will examine.

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