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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Discussions on Proctor's

Below is a series of messages regarding ideas to save Proctor's Theatre on Fourth Street. There are currently 2,100 signatures on an online petition to save the building.

Richard Herrick, local citizen

Suggested several ideas on how to save Proctor's theatre:

"1. Relocate Rensselaer's Lighting Research Institute which is currently in leased space to the Theater. Why waste money on leased space when RPI can use space it already own and what a better place to study lighting than in a theater setting. Envision if you will the construction of two floors of open office space over the current theater seating areas. These open spaces would overlook the stage creating a tremendous learning and work environment for the Institute and its students.

An additional benefit for Troy can also be had: Convert the Gurley Building into more downtown dormitories. Rensselaer and Stellenbosch University , one of the premier research universities in South Africa have recently teamed up to expand their science and engineering capacity and to encourage young people in Africa to visit America and focus their energies on addressing the great global challenges of our time. More dorm space is needed to house these visiting students and Gurley's fits right in!!. The Proctor's and the Gurley Building combination is a sure bet for success and a Win Win for all.

2. Use a restored Proctors to house the New York State Youth Theatre Institute (NYSTI), a theater without a permanent home. The Mayor and the Troy City Council's passed a resolution recently urging the State to keep this world class theater for our children in Troy. I could not agree more. The NYSTI is housed in temporary cramped space at Russell Sage College and does not have its own Theater space Proctor's can certainly be used to make the world a better place for our children and stand as an internationally acclaimed professional and educational regional theatre for the Theater Institute.

3. Use Proctors as a Convention Center. Troy currently does not have large convention center space, but should. Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson as former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission carries with her a stature which can bring large conferences to Troy to meet and address the future of nuclear power, including its economics, waste disposal, proliferation or non-proliferation, and study innovations in nuclear technology, all in a renovated Proctor's. This use will continue and expand upon RPI's world class recognition as leader in science and engineering research and education. A restored Proctors could also be used at other times as a movie theater for first-run movies, have a Broadway and NYSTI production every now and then and yes, have that old fashion vaudeville show.

Opportunities Abound to Save Proctor's and I urge Rensselaer President Jackson, Mayor Tutunjian and the Troy City Council to work in collaboration with Columbia Development to Save Proctor's

Use RestoreNY money to Save Proctor's and not DestroyNY's historic treasures."

Councilman Bill Dunne, D-District 4
"Sadly, the $5,000,000 in RestoreNY money is not enough to renovate this building. It is not even enough to "mothball" it. Any of these ideas below is a minimum of $15 - $20 million. Right now, given the economy, that money is just not out there."

Jim de Seve - local resident
"Go Richard! There are creative solutions. The one being proposed is not creative. SEFCU, while welcome in Troy has a choice of office space downtown. As someone proposed on the petition why not put SEFCU into the old Quackenbush's (Grant's and then Rite Aid) at Third and Broadway? The building is huge.

The structural assessments of the theater say that it is rock solid. Most of the damage is superficial. Much of the building is steel, concrete and brick. It was built to last. It has a new roof.

There is nothing that makes this project urgent. Let's keep Proctor's in a historical savings account. Let's spend time researching and coming up with a creative way to save this theater.

Let's reject the "saving history by destroying history" double-speak that has been coming from the mayor. It is bizarre reasoning.

Harry hopes to have a big "win" while he is still in office. Tearing down Proctor's is a big loss for everyone!

We will not stand and watch this theater be demolished. No way in hell is that structure coming down. Politicians who advocate its destruction will have to atone on election day.

Sign the petition to the state - now at 2,017 people!

Bill - Get me the 5 million and I will show you how to mothball the building. That is a ridiculous statement. The walls are straight, the inside structure firm.

We don't need politicians making excuses for their support of demolition. We need leaders with vision and cojones."

Blaise Hartley - local resident
"Can anyone provide sources for these estimates?

I have real questions about where all these numbers come from. We've seen news articles on similar buildings in similar or worse condition being restored to a usable state for around $1M, but the numbers *for* demolition always seem to be very vague.

Has a qualified professional presented estimates on projects similar to the ideas below, or even ANY other ideas besides demolition? If so, why hasn't anyone simply produced these estimates, to clear the whole thing up? If not, what valid source are these numbers coming from?

The single reality-based number I've heard from those in favor of demolition so far has been the Proctor's Schenectady argument, to the effect of "The Schenectady Proctor's needed a $30M renovation, and it had never been abandoned, so our Proctor's would cost at least as much, if not more." This would *seem* to be a good argument, so I researched it a bit, and found that it is a completely invalid comparison. I haven't found exact numbers yet, but several articles point out that the vast majority of the $30M was not spent on renovating the theater space at all! Most of it went to renovating the building next door, building a new stagehouse, building a community theater down the street, and building an entirely new high-tech black-box theater as advanced as the one in EMPAC, complete with iwerks movie equipment and self-unfolding seating that automatically hides itself away in the walls!

I'm not saying I KNOW what the numbers are, but how are we expected to believe "It's too expensive" if the only real evidence we've seen says it isn't, and all other arguments are built on hearsay?"

I have a Master of Architecture degree and manage million dollar commercial construction projects. I think that qualifies me.
The building needs asbestos abatement, mold remediation, cleanup, selective demolition and stabilization and then the entire electrical and mechanical systems need to be replaced, plus...
This will consume the $5,000,000.

The Quackenbush has no parking. Jim, where's the money??? Show us a realistic alternate.

Greg Cholakis, local attorney
Amen, brothers Jim Don! And you're right: I guarantee that scores of volunteers, individuals businesses, will give of their time resources, to further stabilize mothball the buildings, making it far more attractive for potential development.

And Bill: your expertise aside, there is no way in hell that this portion of the project will cost that much money. In either event, seeing how at least one of us is wrong, why is it that we don't have legitimate estimates for this work, but instead apparently rely on rumors or worse yet, Columbia's self-serving statements on this issue?

And I promise you that I will be first in line to roll up my sleeves to help.......assuming I could possibly elbow my way in front of Jim and Don. Instead of telling us why we will fail, why don't you pledge to join me and volunteer your time?

de Seve
Bill -
As Don Rittner pointed out - why is there money for demolition?

This was sprung on the public very quickly. The answer to anyone (and that is MANY people) who does not agree with this idiotic plan is - what is the alternative?

Given enough time and research alternatives will be discovered. There is always a way to pull of the "impossible".

The problem is that our public officials have dug their heads deep in the sand and tout this "destroying Proctor's is saving Proctor's" nonsense.

Why? So one of your own can claim to be the savior of Proctor's for his own political benefit? (big mistake) The people are screaming at you guys to do better - and your collective ears are very deaf.

I know there is more history here including another viable response to the RPI RFP. There are also possibilities of renovation through Americorps or other programs that would train people in historic renovation. Stone cutters were trained at the Capital renovation recently through a similar program.

There is also a very determined populace to help. I have no doubt that many people will answer the call to volunteer with a fix-up effort. Maybe just enough to mothball for now. And given the solid structure mothballing would not be that hard. I have renovated buildings and been around renovations all my life, including several buildings downtown that were way worse than Proctor's. It can be done.

And if we all believe in a healthy future for Troy - can't that future include a renovated theater? If we are stupid enough to tear it down now, there are bound to be HUGE regrets in the future.

This is being foisted on us verrrrry quickly with very little government transparency and little will to look for alternatives. It has a lot of people really pissed off.

Bill, I promise you that we will not let that theater come down. We will picket SEFCU, we will form a human chain around that building if demolition equipment comes anywhere near. You will have to pry my dead body off that theater before a brick is harmed.

And we will hold politicians who support this monstrous foolishness to very high standards come election day.

Sign the petition at:

Thanks for the response. I wasn't specifically addressing my questions to you, but I appreciate you stepping up!
If I understand correctly, your professional opinion as an architect is that you estimate that it would cost about $5M to return the theater space to what others have referred to as a "mothballed" condition, i.e. structurally sound, sealed from the elements, safe for humans to enter, and with a semblance of modern infrastructure, but still in need of cleanup and restoration. If this is the case, I have a question. Is the current plan actually guaranteed in any way? What I mean is, have the parties involved already completed the plans for the new building to be built behind the facade and entryway, and secured the loans/cash needed to complete them, or is the project speculative, and contingent first on the demolition?

If the project is speculative, has anyone done a real risk assessment on what its chances of coming to pass are? I would think that given Troy's track record in this department, we should be skeptical of the plan's chance of success, unless there are already some kind of guarantees in place.

Obviously, if the $5M grant were used to "mothball" the structure and buy it back from RPI, to be put in the care of a non-profit corporation whose job would be to raise funds for restoration, etc, there would be a risk that that project too would fail, but the potential rewards, I suspect, would equal or exceed those of the current proposal, so having some idea of the probabilities involved would really help to convince me and others one way or the other.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Demolish the entire building! SEFCU and Harry, a match made in...well, not heaven! ONLY 32 MONTHS TO GO! THANK GOD AND GOODBYE TO TEAM INCOMPETENT!

April 8, 2009 at 7:50 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for all involved here there is no money for mothballing. The $5 mil is not for doing part of something. The money is awarded based on a project. Mothballing a deteriorated theater is not a project in the eyes of the state. So beginning there is the proper position. You either get $5 mil for the Columbia project or you get nothing.

April 8, 2009 at 9:08 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Dunne manages million dollar construction projects? Where, in his dreams?
The question all who were involved with the e-mail train should ask is, Would a one screen theatre be able to make enough money to sustain, and flourish in this economy?
Do we need another venue for shows with EMPAC, Revolution Hall, the Black Box Theatre at the Art's Center, and the Troy Music Hall all in operation,reaching for the expendable entertainment income of families?
I know the hard core preservationist will claim Uncle Sam or maybe Jimmy Durante took a pee in back of the building or something, but this building has not been functioning since 1977. Where the Proctors in Schenectady was never vacant. They did not have to deal with the mold, aspestos, and pidgeon dropping issue's that the building has. Plus the fact that the beautiful ornate woodwork has been RUINED by roof leaks and years of neglect.
Anything that was of any value was stripped from the structure years ago.
For once in this city, let's just get things done. I can smell another Freihofer fiasco coming, and ANOTHER developer walking away.

April 8, 2009 at 5:25 PM 
Blogger T. Thornton said...

Why is any idea that opposes that of Jim DeSeve, always idiotic? Only 5% of the City of Troy's population has signed the petition, hardly the majority. Why is it also that everyone comes out of the woodwork in the eleventh hour to save these structures that have been neglected for decades? Where was the plan for the adaptive re-use of Proctor's for the past thirty years? We cannot wait until the wrecking ball is at the gate to spring into action to save buildings that are too far gone to be salvaged at a reasonable cost. We must act NOW to prevent future sites from falling into disrepair, thus costing millions more than necessary, to stabilize and rehabilitate and adaptively re-use.

April 9, 2009 at 10:08 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like all these people exchanging e-mails are high on something

April 9, 2009 at 10:39 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is comical to see Clem Campana and Ken Zalewski sign the so called petition AFTER voting to apply for a demolition grant. Talk about spineless jellyfish tilting with the wind.What a disgrace. Carpetbagger Zalewski wants to form a committee to discuss options and formulate cost estimates. Where have you been, Ken?
Lets form a committee to study a dog park and come up with estimates and proper locations. What, its already installed, on pavement, no council vote, are you kiddding me. Ken, who authorized and studied this?

April 9, 2009 at 10:52 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Clem, your transparent window is clearly showing your fence straddling. Does this guy think people are stupid?
Go Rogers
Go Obama
Go Roger Minch!

April 10, 2009 at 10:20 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crawley, Rogers, Campana, Tutunjian, Buell, Galumpski...all crooks that need goverment to make a living. Try to earn a living in the privae sector guys! You would not even get an interview.

April 11, 2009 at 10:30 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see Dunne managing multi million dollar projects with his scrubs on.
He's the George Costanza of Troy politics!

April 11, 2009 at 11:56 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe we can rebuild Uncle Sams house on the present city hall site
Yeah, that's the ticket!
How about if we lower a giant inflatable screen though the roof of the Proctors. We'll sweep up the old one off the floor, and have Rich Herrick blow the new one up. Yeah, that's the ticket!
We'll give the local organic farms the multiple truckloads of pidgeon guano for larger produce.
Yeah, that's the ticket!
Then we'll send a posse to the rainforest, headed up by Russell the Mailman to chop, and shape some of that timber to replace all the ornate woodworking that has been destroyed by years of neglect.
Now that's the ticket!

April 12, 2009 at 9:00 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Rogers you are referring is could not be more wrong...see after graduating from RPI, Keith has spent the last 15 years in the private sector and has a six figure job in the private sector. Not only would he get the interview he would be the interviewer. Nice try though lumping him with the public sector gang. You forgot Brown and McGrath also public sector guys.

April 12, 2009 at 9:24 PM 
Anonymous richard herrick said...

Dear Mayor and Councilmen:

There is still time to Save the Proctor's Theater Auditorium and Stage Space.

As we all know RPI owns three separate buildings which are part of the RestoreNY application for funding. I offer the following facts:

Columbia Development has publically stated that they only have a Tenant which needs space for 150 employees or appx 22,500 sq ft of usable space.

The Chasen Building--according to the RestoreNY application this building contains 33,520 sq ft of space, more than enough space to house the Tenant.

The Office Portion of the Proctor's Complex--according to the RestoreNY application this building contains 30,094 st ft of space--again more than enough space to house the Tenant.

The Proctor's Theater Auditorium/Stage Space--according to the RestoreNY application this building contains 60,847 sq ft of space, this is the space which Columbia wants to demolish.
The only logical conclusion which can be reached at this time and in this economic climate is that the Columbia tenant will occupy either the Chasen Building or the Office Portion of the Proctor's Complex and that the proposed 60,000 sq ft replacement building proposed for the Auditorium/Stage Space footprint is a future project which may or may not actually ever be built.

Based on these facts I would like to ask each of you to re-think and change your individual positions on demolishing the Proctor's Theater Auditorium and Stage Space. Quite honestly I do not believe there was enough time for each of you to honestly act on the RestoreNY application due to the very short notice you were given and true lack of full background information made available to you.

I would like also to ask that at the next Council meeting the full Council modifies the resolution just voted on and remove from the ResstoreNY application that portion which proposes the demolition of the Proctor's Auditorium and Stage Space.

There is still time to Save the Proctor's Theater Auditorium/Stage Space and there are many current and future opportunities available to us put that space to a good, valuable and productive use. Please join and support the efforts currently underway to Save Proctor's!!


Richard Herrick

April 12, 2009 at 9:25 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keith stop blogging about yourself you loser. You have a very inflated opinion of yourself.

April 13, 2009 at 8:16 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Do you understand Tutunjian and Crawley have no intention on saving the Theatre. They are going to try to muscle this through so they can give their developer buddy the Restore millions and get a kick back. To stop this from happening, you must stop the grant from being awarded. Communicate with the State and convince then to not issue this grant to Troy. Without the money, the developer will abandon the project. Demonstrate to the State, Troy's failure of progress in Retsore I & II (Rivers & Estuary and Hedley Hotel) to convince the State to award the money elsewhere, and the project is over. This should not be difficult, as no progress at all has been made on either project. Good luck.

April 13, 2009 at 3:39 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has this Herrick guy banged his head on the floor to many times or what?

April 15, 2009 at 1:02 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

will Bill Dunne be designing the new city hall. Is he still working for G. Costanza & Sons?
do these multimillion dollar projects he manages disappear when he wakes up from his dreams?
I need answers Mr. Wizard!

April 15, 2009 at 9:03 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Dunne designs what?
Calling Dr. Moe, Dr. Larry, Dr. Curly.
He is sounding like Costanza

April 16, 2009 at 9:37 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the fact that people hammer Dunne. If he's stupid, were does that leave Tutunjian, Crawley, McGrath, Wojcik, Ciccarrelli, etal?
Ever listen to that lot? Not a decent education among them.

April 23, 2009 at 7:57 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One piece of information missing from the Prctor's discussion is: Who is to own and operate the theater?. Could someone from the Save Proctor's group address this? I think this is an imprtant bit of info you you expect people to support you.

April 27, 2009 at 9:55 PM 

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