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Ronald Perelman Gifts $75 Million for Performing Arts Center at World Trade Center Site

Businessman Ronald Perelman announced on Wednesday that he has donated $75 million to move forward with building a performing arts center at the World Trade Center site, Michael Cooper of the New York Times reports. An arts complex at ground zero had originally been envisioned by architect Daniel Libeskind as part of his 2003 master plan for the site. The project was shelved for more than a decade due to setbacks in fundraising, delays in the construction of the new transit hub, and issues with the design.

“I think that this is a project that must happen,” Perelman said. “It is more than just a pure artistic center to serve a community. It is that, but at the same time it’s much more than that.” The former chairman of Carnegie Hall said that he believes in the redevelopment of the site and had gifted $5 million to the World Trade Center museum shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Maggie Boepple, the center’s president and director, said that Perelman’s gift, along with the $100 million in federal funds donated by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, brings the project another step closer to realizing its estimated cost of $240 million.

Rex, a Brooklyn-based architecture firm, was selected to design the project. The complex will feature cutting-edge technology and three flexible features that can seat either 499, 299, or 100 people, or 1,200 when the spaces are combined. While the types of programming the center will offer are in the works, it has been confirmed that it will host the Tribeca Film Festival each April. Jenny Gersten, artistic director of Massachusetts’s Williamstown Theater Festival, is currently a producing consultant.

Perelman, who expressed excitement about the immersive performances the theaters will be able to accommodate, said, “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.”