Brooklyn Broadside: Happy Ending for a Controversy That Should Never Have Happened

By Dennis Holt

BROOKLYN — Brooklyn, and especially the greater downtown area, has dodged a bullet that should never have been fired in the first place.

St. Ann’s Warehouse, as reported yesterday, has found a new home in DUMBO at 29 Jay St. at the Plymouth Street corner. It is being forced to move because its current space, at Water and Dock streets, is being torn down for a mixed-use building that will include a public middle school. Groundbreaking for that building is expected next summer. An earlier plan, conceived by the city and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, would have converted the old Tobacco Warehouse within the park into an arts and culture center with an auditorium for use by St. Ann’s. The Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) filed suit, claiming that the transfer of property rights from the state to the city was irregular and therefore illegal. This view has been supported by the courts.

The BHA decision to go to court caused a furor within the association, leading to several resignations by former officers and leaders.

Many people feared that St. Ann’s would not be able to find a new home in Brooklyn and would have to move to Manhattan.

St Ann’s Warehouse had evolved during 11 years in DUMBO from a humdrum ensemble to a major force in the city’s performing arts scene. It also has helped make DUMBO a destination point.

The group’s new home is larger than the one it occupies now, at 19,000 square feet with 33-foot ceilings. St. Ann’s plans to launch its fall 2012 season in this new space after closing in May at its current location.

St Ann’s signed a three-year lease with Forman Realty Management LLC. The relatively short-term lease, however, suggests that we haven’t heard the last of the Tobacco Warehouse.

The courts have ruled that a legal transfer of the roof-less 19th century building from the state to the city has to be approved by the state legislature. Within three years, that action could probably be taken. Then, the old warehouse could be renovated according to the original plan and used for performances.

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Filed under Brooklyn Broadside, DUMBO, Editorial

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