The controversial Dock Street project might have garnered City Council approval recently, but it also started the clock ticking for one of DUMBO’s most important cultural institutions to find a new home.
St. Ann’s Warehouse, 37 Water Street, the innovative theater and a 30−year cultural institution in Brooklyn, has been told by developer Two Trees that it has two more seasons to find a new home before the site gets turned into the 17−story apartment and school complex.
However, St. Ann’s Warehouse Founder and Artistic Director Susan Feldman said she supports the Walentas family and their project.
The family gave the company its current 14,000−square−foot−space temporarily free of charge for nine months and that was eight years ago.
“We’re looking for space and they [Walentas family] are helping us look, and if we are going to build a space and outfit it, they promised to help,” she said.
St. Ann’s was originally housed in St. Ann’s Church in Brooklyn Heights, and Feldman said a school or church that has been shuttered would be ideal. She is also looking at Manhattan and said she wants to cast as wide a net as possible.
“We’re looking for a large column−free space with high ceilings,” she said. “These are the two minimum requirements.”
Feldman said this requirement assures the space can be reconfigured to seat 300, 600 or even 1,000 standing for a concert.
“What’s so special about the warehouse is it enables us to have international and regional partnerships with such acclaimed theater companies like the Wooster Group, the Globe Theater of London, the National Theater of Scotland and emerging artists like Cynthia Hopkins,” she said.
Feldman said she is putting the word out now, because a lot of non−profit performance spaces wait until the last minute and then suffer “death by development.”
Among the spaces that Feldman is looking at with a gleam in her eye is the nearby Civil War era Tobacco Warehouse, which is part of the Brooklyn Bridge Park development.
St. Ann’s produced “Macbeth” there last summer last summer, and Feldman has spoken to Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation President Regina Myer about the space. The space has a collapsed roof, but Feldman said that a shell can be built within it.
“The Tobacco Warehouse is a perfect big open space. It’s perfect in terms of location,” said Feldman. “We have such a strong sense of helping build the neighborhood and hate to leave the area.”