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Groups Submit Dueling Bids For DUMBO Warehouse

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TWC News: Groups Submit Dueling Bids For DUMBO Warehouse
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A waterfront building in Brooklyn that's a little more than than a shell has become a big point of contention for two groups vying to use the space. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

The 1870s structure known as the Tobacco Warehouse, located in Brooklyn Bridge Park, is about to become home to a performing arts organization.

"The idea was to reactivate it with community or cultural or educational or civic uses because those are the uses that really add to the park and they can add 12 months a year," said Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Meyer.

There are two groups vying for the landmark building -- St. Ann's Warehouse and the cultural group LAVA.

St. Ann's, which currently operates in a space across the street, has been in DUMBO for 10 years but was founded 30 years ago in a historic Brooklyn church.

"I was actually hired by the New York Landmarks Conservancy at the time to come up with an adaptive use for the church which is still a church but it's also a historic landmark. So we know a lot about preserving buildings and how to use historic buildings and adapt them for contemporary use," said Susan Feldman of St. Ann's Warehouse.

St. Ann's plans to build two performance spaces -- one for its productions and a smaller one for community use. It would also have an open garden pavilion for the public and keep its offices off site.

The competing bid from LAVA argues that St. Ann's proposal encloses the building too much.

"I was disheartened to see a building constructed within a building. That seemed to me to be the least imaginative use of this space. Whereas the LAVA proposal the use was still accessible from every part of the park," said Marisa Cardinale of LAVA Brooklyn.

LAVA's plans call for an outdoor theater space, two new buildings for a wellness center and offices and open space for its flying trapeze and acrobatics acts.

The proposals were presented to the community Monday night. But some argued the Tobacco Warehouse shouldn't be reserved for a cultural use at all and called the process flawed.

"This is not culture versus the park. This is about a public process that has gotten out of step with those people who have started the park," said one DUMBO resident.

"The arts and culture are the things that move our civilization forward and it absolutely deserves to live in the park," said Karen Brooks Hopkins of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The board of directors for Brooklyn Bridge Park will be voting on the proposals at City Hall Wednesday afternoon.

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