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 http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/ 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. http://www.nysti.org/about.htm 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?"Dunne
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
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: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?troyprocHartley
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.
Labels: e-mails, petition, Proctor's