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World Trade Center Performing Arts Center Receives $75M Gift From a Billionaire

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Of course it will bear the name of its benefactor, Ronald Perelman

One of the last pieces of the puzzle is finally coming together at the World Trade Center site. Following a $75 million contribution from billionaire Ronald Perelman, the World Trade Center’s long-stalled Performing Arts Center will almost certainly move forward and will now be known as the Perelman center, the New York Times reports.

The architect for the project, the Brooklyn-based firm REX, was announced last November, and now some of the plans for the center have become clearer, though the renderings are yet to be made publicly available.

Plans call for the creation of three theaters of varying size at the center that will fit 499, 299, and 100 people respectively, but they will be designed flexibly so that all three can be combined as a single space to seat 1,200 people. The center will likely produce and host dance programs, theater, and opera. In addition, the center will also be home to the Tribeca Film Festival each April.

"I would hope it is the first venue of choice for the Bruce Springsteens and the Bon Jovis and the Yo-Yo Mas and the Lang Langs, and at the same time it’s a place where we could have produced a "Hamilton" project or where we could produce a new ballet," Perelman told the Times.

The plans have continued to evolve since Frank Gehry first conceptualized a design for the space several years ago. The most recent plan also called for combinable theaters, albeit just two, would have seated slightly fewer people overall, and would have likely had two other venues in the center that could have worked as rehearsal studios.

The budget for the project has also fluctuated back and forth, but at present it stands at about $240 million — $100 million of that was committed by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation through federal funds post 9/11, and now Perelman’s major contribution is finally moving the project forward.

The Times speculated whether the move had anything to do with Perelman severing ties with Carnegie Hall recently. But the paper of record also remarked that Perelman’s the latest in a string of billionaires who’ve been contributing money and attaching their names to major artistic and cultural projects be it Avery Fisher Hall being named for David Geffen or the New York Public Library’s Fifth Avenue branch being named for Stephen A. Schwarzman.

Several projects have been moving forward at the World Trade Center site recently. The Silverstein Properties-developed office supertall 3 WTC recently topped out, and Liberty Park finally opened to the public this week.