3LD in a Battle for Its Existence
Most of our community is by now aware that 3-Legged Dog is in a battle for its existence with the MTA. It is a complicated rent dispute with extenuating circumstances. Congressman Nadler and State Senator Squadron have intervened in an almost certain eviction process to bring the MTA to the table to negotiate.
According to an article in the Downtown Express (see link below) the MTA contends that 3LD has defaulted on payment promises and says that "At a time when state cuts and deteriorating tax revenues have forced the MTA to lay off station agents and cut service, we are turning over every stone to balance our budget and that includes holding our tenants to their commitments."
3LD claims that due to cost overruns and damage claims from renovations including building maintenance and asbestos abatement, the MTA actually owes 3LD. "The MTA owes $1.6 million to 3LD (which 3LD can document). 1.6 million minus $300,000 (that 3LD owes the MTA) leaves $1.3 million that the MTA owes 3LD. It is simply not acceptable for the MTA to refuse to look at or consider the documentation" insists Kevin Cunningham, Executive Artistic Director of 3LD.
In a letter to Jay Walder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the MTA, Chairperson for Community Board 1, Julie Menin states that, "3LD has been an important part of the post-9/11 redevelopment of Lower Manhattan. It has helped bring vitality on evenings and weekends to the area near West Street... This innovative theatre and the cultural activity that takes place at 3LD is needed in an area that has been affected very severely by the destruction of the World Trade Center." She also notes that CB1 has used the facility for their meetings and has witnessed the development of the space and encourages both sides to enter into immediate mediation.
3LD is a rare space for the Off-Off-Broadway community offering many independent theatre artists an unprecedented state-of-the-art facility in which to create their work. Tom Berger, Artistic Director, (re:) Directions Theatre Company and Board Member, League of Independent Theatre encourages community members to take action now. "With the death-knell of the Ohio still ringing in our ears, we must not let another important performance space be taken advantage of or ousted."
At a the Community Board 1 meeting on May 25th, Cunningham announced that the MTA has agreed to meet with 3LD, but he fears that they will simply demand payment in full without considering the evidence. Cunningham is asking for the OOB community to support 3LD in this matter, "We need letters to flow to Schumer, Nadler, Squadron, Speaker Quinn, Margaret Chin, Bill de Blasio and President Stringer... 500 letters is the magic number."
Dear [ ],
Thank you very much for interceding in the situation occurring with the MTA and 3-Legged Dog. 3LD is critical to the ongoing cultural revitalization of Lower Manhattan. That the MTA is willing to put down a major cultural institution and the public improvements it brought to the space, in order to rent to a retail tenant is misguided.
The MTA must sit down with 3LD and mediate the cost overrun and damages claims in good faith. MTA owes $1.6 million to 3LD (which 3LD says they can document). $1.6 million minus $300,000 (that 3LD owes the MTA) leaves $1.3 million that the MTA owes 3LD. It is bad public policy for the MTA to rely on legal commercial lease technicalities to summarily dismiss 3LD's claims.
This building sat vacant for at least a decade before 3LD took the lease. $2.5 million of taxpayer money was put into improvements in the building as well as another $3 million from private foundations or 3-Legged Dog revenue. These improvements were meant to bring culture to a distressed neighborhood and to serve the public good with cultural activities and services and should not revert to a commercial tenant or be used to produce a profit for a public agency.
3LD provides employment for many working artists, (121 part time employees and 78 Full Time Equivalent employees a year) all of whom pay taxes. Their residency program artists employ an additional 724 artists and technicians a year. All of these artists and technicians pay taxes. 49,000 patrons bring life, safety, revenue and tax revenue to the distressed Lower Greenwich Street neighborhood.
3LD is creating art and technology, keeping NYC at the forefront of such advances. 3LD is preserving a tradition of cutting edge cultural exploration, helping NYC hold ground as a world leader in this sector. This is about more than 1 organization not paying its rent. This is about the privatization of publicly funded improvements. Please keep fighting on behalf of 3LD. If this case can be brought to the court of public opinion, the MTA will surely have to amend its strategies.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler
State Senator Daniel L. Squadron
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
Speaker Quinn at the City Council
Borough President Scott Stringer
and to your local City Council representative asking them to weigh in on our behalf.
MTA Chairman Jay Walder
347 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017-3739
RELATED STORIES3-Legged Dog refuses to roll over for the MTA by John Bayles 5/21/10 - Downtown Express
Downtown Theatre Company Faces Evication by Rachel Lee Harris 5/16/10 - New York Times