After years of court battles, press coverage, celebrity anger and verbal assaults from senior citizens, Carnegie Hall is finally getting its wish: Turning the live/work artist studios above the historic concert hall into new offices and classrooms. The Associated Press reports that the last two rent-stabilized holdouts, Elizabeth Sargent and 98-year-old Editta Sherman?who famously demanded a $10 million buyout, then said "they'll have to drag me out"?have struck agreements and will soon move out. They'll both head to Midtown apartments where their rent will be subsidized by Carnegie for the rest of their lives (Sherman was paying $650/month). They're not pleased. Said Sargent, "I'd rather live in these rundown rooms than any new apartment in a glass tower."
The Carnegie Hall Corp. and its main benefactor, former Citigroup CEO and current 15 Central Park West penthouse resident Sandy Weill, didn't wait around for the last tenants to leave to start the renovation. The AP describes the current look of the place:
The old stone-and-cast-iron staircases and some original walls will survive, according to architectural plans for the towers obtained by the AP.What's left inside is just a shadow of the bustling labyrinth of corridors, stairways and studios where modern American dance took its first steps, created by choreographers like George Balanchine and Martha Graham.
Debris now spills down a stairway leading to a rooftop studio. "SAVE" is scrawled on a wall in red, with a line to guide workers when they chop off a ceiling and skylight built in the 1890s.
Though the towers will be rebuilt to accommodate an expanding music education program, not everyone is convinced that Carnegie Hall has the best intentions in mind. Said one studios supporter: "They're erasing every piece of our cultural history, and it's not all for the children. It's for Sandy Weill events." C'mon, buddy, that's what 15 Central Park West's private dining room is for!
· Elizabeth Sargent, Last Carnegie Hall Towers Resident, Kicked Out [AP via HuffPo]
· Carnegie Hall coverage [Curbed]