Settlement Brings St. Ann's Step Closer to 'Dream' Home
An agreement between the city, community groups and preservationists has brought the Brooklyn theater St. Ann's Warehouse a step closer to its widely known desire to take up residence in a historic structure in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
A year ago, the Dumbo-based nonprofit, which was moving out of its longtime home on Water Street, hoped to adapt the Civil War-era Tobacco Warehouse into a theater venue. But its plans were interrupted when local groups successfully sued Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp., and the National Park Service for illegally redrawing the park lines and removing the protected land occupied by the warehouse and Empire Stores from public use.
The new settlement, announced Monday, proposes "swapping" park space through legislative approval and a formal conversion process that would give Brooklyn Bridge Park a 38,000-square foot plot, currently housing a water meter and storage shed, and convert the historic complex for commercial and cultural use. It also names St. Ann's as the conditional lessee of the Tobacco Warehouse.
"It's always been part of our dream, and it's even more palpable now," said St. Ann's artistic director, Susan Feldman. "We're looking at it as the next stage."
In search of a new space for more than two years, the group signed a three-year lease in December on a 19,000-square-foot warehouse at 29 Jay St.
The plan for the Tobacco Warehouse, estimated at $20 million, would include a courtyard, a larger stage and a smaller space available for community programming. Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, said that adding St. Ann's to the mix boosts the "tremendous amount of momentum for the park."
Joan McGroarty, president of the Brooklyn Heights Association, one of the co-plaintiffs, said the lawsuit was "never an attempt to thwart St. Ann's."
"Our lawsuit was about protection of public parkland," she said.
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