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World Trade Center performing arts center could be delayed by federal funding cuts

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Ongoing issues between Port Authority and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation are at the root of it all

Rendering by Luxigon

After years of planning (and re-planning), the World Trade Center’s long-stalled performing arts center took huge steps toward becoming a reality last year. A $75 million contribution from billionaire Ronald Perelman propelled the the project closer towards closing the gap for its projected $240 million budget and $100 million was set to be allocated by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC). However, the center is once again faced with a huge question mark as it grapples with the possibility of losing its $100 million federal funding, reports Crain’s.

The performing arts center will face major delays if unspent federal funds that the city received post 9/11 to redevelop lower Manhattan are withdrawn from the project and the project’s fate seems to be in jeopardy due to “unresolved issues” between Port Authority and the LMDC.

Per Crain’s, Port Authority, who controls the site where the REX-designed Perelman Center (as it was dubbed following Perelman’s generous contribution) is to be built, is owed money by the LMDC for prep work that was completed. Yet, the two entities can’t seem to agree on just how much is owed. The LMDC claims they owe $45 million but Port Authority is estimating that the amount is closer to $67 million. In any event, the delay could be sending a message to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that the federal funds are no longer needed.

“If I’m HUD and I’m looking at this entity that has publicly stated it’s hoping to wind down and there is uncommitted funding available to be swept back to HUD, why do I have to leave $100-plus million for LMDC to use on these projects?” stated LMDC board member Peter Wertheim.

Port Authority is refusing to hand over control for the site until they are paid. The LMDC is hoping to work things out with the agency by the end of June.

UPDATE (3/30/17): A spokesperson for HUD reached out to Curbed with the following statement:

HUD has encouraged LMDC to promptly obligate and spend its remaining HUD awards, and made clear that unexpended funds always have a degree of vulnerability. However there is no imminent threat to the HUD funding for the WTC Performing Arts Center.