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Empire State Development Corporation Meeting

May 13th, 2009 No comments

On May 11th, 2009, members of the Troy Proctor’s Committee met with the Empire State Development Corporation, to discuss the demolition of Proctor’s Theater. The ESDC is the body that awards RestoreNY grants. RestoreNY, you may remember, is the money being sought by the City of Troy and Columbia Development to fund the demolition.

The meeting went well. Committee members clarified the stakes of the situation, emphasized the structural soundness of the theater building, answered questions, and presented the first draft of our Strategic Plan for Proctor’s. This is only the first step in a long list of meetings with public officials, but it was an encouraging one!

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Public Hearing Transcript

May 9th, 2009 No comments

As we previously reported, the public hearing on the plan to demolish Proctor’s Theater in favor of new office space was a resounding success for the effort to Save Proctor’s. As the city has not released a transcript of that hearing, one of our committee members, Amy Halloran, undertook the enormous effort of transcribing that hearing from her own recording, so it could be published.

You can find it at: Proctor’s Theater Demolition Hearing Transcript

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Meeting With Developer

May 6th, 2009 No comments

On April 28th, 2009, members of the Troy Proctor’s Committee met with representatives of Columbia Development at their offices in Albany. The meeting was friendly and productive, and gave both sides an opportunity to speak candidly about their positions.

The following letter, sent on May 4th to Joseph Nicolla of Columbia Development and copied to numerous local and state officials, summarizes the results of that meeting:


Joseph R. Nicolla
Columbia Development Companies
302 Washington Avenue Ext.
Albany, NY 12203
May 4, 2009

Re: Troy’s Proctor’s Theater

Dear Mr. Nicolla,

I wanted to again thank you for taking so much of your time to meet
with our group and discuss the plans and future of Troy’s historic Proctor’s
Theater. Most importantly, I wanted to thank you for your offer to work
with our group and consider alternative plans which would call for the
adaptive reuse of the theater structure, and your willingness to modify or
alter your tentative plans which call for its demolition and replacement
with an office building.

Specifically, you indicated that you would review any alternative
plans for such adaptive reuse, and would even include it with your
application for Restore NY grant funding. However, insofar as this offer
came less than a week prior to the application’s submission date, I hope and
trust you will understand that, while we have several tentative plans for
such reuse and even a preliminary report for adaptive reuse, we very much
wanted to provide you with a more complete and detailed proposal than we
were able to muster in such a short period of time. Knowing what goes into
such plans and projects, I have no doubt you will agree that six days is a
wholly inadequate time frame to present plans worthy of such a significant
project.

We very much encourage Columbia Development to continue to work on
development projects in Troy. Specifically, I wish to reaffirm our group’s
eagerness to collaborate with you and Columbia Development in the sensitive
work of redeveloping the Proctor’s / Chasan Buildings. However, and in
order to avoid any potential confusion, this will further clarify and
confirm that our support for any such redevelopment is contingent upon a
final plan which not only preserves and reuses Proctor’s façade, lobby and
office / retail space, but that specifically maintains the theater structure
as an integral part of the whole redevelopment project, whether as a theater
or an alternative, adaptive reuse.

Thank you again for your time and consideration, and we look forward
to future meetings between our group and Columbia Development with an eye
towards moving this important and historic project forward.
Very truly yours,

Jim de Sève
Representative, Troy Proctor’s

cc. Tom Keaney, project manager; Claude Rounds,Vice President for Administration
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; New York State Office of Historic Preservation;
Empire State Development Corporation; Harry J. Tutunjian, Mayor Troy, NY; Mike
Russo, District Rep for Senator Gillibrand; Ronald J. Canestrari, NY State Assembly
Majority Leader; Troy City Council

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Public Hearing Report

April 26th, 2009 No comments

On Wednesday, April 22, 2009, at Troy City Hall, over 120 people attended the public hearing on the plan to demolish Proctor’s Theater. Presentations were made by Jim de Seve of the Save Proctor’s Committee and Joe Nicolla of Columbia Development. Dozens of local residents also addressed the panel with their own perspectives and opinions.

Mr. Nicolla emphasized the effort being made to preserve the building’s historic facade, while creating jobs with the office building that will replace it. Mr. de Seve used photographs to demonstrate the building’s surprisingly good internal condition and structural soundness, and emphasized the historic importance of the site, and its potential to serve as a major cultural attraction in downtown Troy.

The public response was overwhelmingly in favor of preserving the entire theater, not just its facade. Of the many local residents who addressed the hearing, only one person spoke in favor of the current demolition plan, with the remainder supporting plans that did not result in the loss of the historic theater space.

The Save Proctor’s Committee is optimistic that this level of public response, along with the nearly 2700 signatures on the petition to save Proctor’s Theater, will serve as strong ammunition in the fight to preserve this historic treasure.

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City Government Hearing

April 20th, 2009 No comments

TROY PROCTOR’S – SAVE IT OR DEMOLISH IT?

Please save the date for an exciting evening of Troy History in the making!

Wednesday April 22 at 6pm at City Hall – public hearing held by the City of Troy on the FUTURE of Proctor’s theater!

Should Proctor’s theater be destroyed for a suburban style office building or should it be preserved? Your voice matters!

Come and share your visions for Proctor’s or just your memories. Please spread the word. Together we can save this historic and beautiful part of Troy history.

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Letter To The Editor

April 7th, 2009 No comments

The following letter from the Committee to Save Proctor’s was published in the Times Union on Sunday, April 5th.  Let’s hope it changes minds!


Inspired by the announcement of plans to demolish Proctor’s Theater, except for its façade, there is an energetic grass-roots effort to save this community treasure.

Almost 2,000 people have signed a petition at http://www.troyproctors.com, and 850 people have helped spread the news and joined a group on Facebook.

Built in 1914, this building celebrates the best of Troy’s past and is more than symbolic of its future. We believe that saving the entire structure, including the grand theater, offices and retail storefronts, will serve as an important catalyst in Troy’s continuing economic revitalization.

Restore the interior theater space to its full glory, and Proctor’s can echo its original function of linking Troy to a changing world.

Programs from vaudeville productions, for which the theater was created, show that Proctor’s helped introduce Trojans to movies, wedging the films between live acts. Movies remain integral to our culture; a restored Proctor’s could bring films back to downtown Troy, as well as live performances. This would keep entertainment dollars local, and help reinvent our city as a vital place.

If we really believe in dreams of Troy as a bedroom community for New York City, then why not keep the theater to serve that imagined future? Surely people who work downstate will want to relax in style at their upstate home.

If full restoration is not immediately possible, then stabilize and mothball the theater until such time as a renovation can happen.

This is our last grand theater in Troy. Adaptive reuse is the only viable alternative to restoration or stabilization.

The city is applying for Restore NY funds for the project without asking owner Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute or Columbia Development to demonstrate the seriousness of their intent.

Putting funds in escrow for the proposed project would show that these entities mean business. Without such proof of purpose, who is to say this proposed new building will ever be constructed?

It is not too late to rewrite the script of this dramatic scenario, and the scale of this theater does demand drama. The 2,300-seat theater’s interior plasterwork is ornate. Ramps connect all the levels from the basement to the balcony, so the theater is entirely handicapped accessible.

Let’s revise the Restore NY request to best serve the city. Trojans often lament the gone glory days of a vibrant downtown. Remembering the way things were is easy, but remembering the folly of grand municipal mistakes is not.

Think of the plans for a mall in the middle of the city. In the late 1960s, Troy secured money to demolish entire blocks of buildings. A shopping center was to fill the empty space. Instead, those blocks sat empty for nearly a decade as multiple promises of construction fell through.

Do we need another hole in the city? No. We need to support our architectural history, first in word, and then in deed.

Financial support from Restore NY shouldn’t be thought of as Destroy NY. Our buildings are literal bridges that link our past to our future.

We can’t keep acting like history is something that happened, and buildings are something that can be torn up like photographs. History is something we are making, too, and the administration has a chance to join the well-established trend of rebuilding the city it serves by preservation.

Yes, the inside of the theater is in poor condition. So were the Rice Building, the Stanley Building, the former Standard Furniture Warehouse Building, the former Cluett Peabody buildings and the Frear Building. All have become Troy treasures. Instead of deeming them unusable, someone believed that they could be saved.

Let’s make Proctor’s our next success story.

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