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Community debates proposed sale of Palace Theater for $1

August 01, 2016 11:43 PM

ALBANY - The 65 million dollar proposed upgrade of Albany's Palace Theater includes the possible sale of the theater for $1 to its operator, the Palace Performing Arts Center.

“This is about what the cultural impact is on our community, said the theater’s managing director Owen Smith.”  

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The plan has sparked a heated debate between those in favor of it and those against it.

“Having 600 theater and lots of space for arts education is absolutely essential in our city,” said taxpayer Maud Baum, who attended Monday night’s City Council meeting.    

“This is not the greatest deal," said Vincent, who also attended the meeting. "I don't believe we should sell it for a dollar,”

Councilman Judd Krasher made the case against the proposed sale during the meeting, saying it would cheat taxpayers.

“What would be the right approach would be to sit down and negotiate a good fair market agreement with the Palace that relieves ourselves of the debt that we pumped in as a result of capital improvements,” Krasher said.

The proposed project includes an expansion of the theater's lobby, a new smaller theater and a state-of-the-art video post-production center.

Under its current lease, the Palace Performing Arts Center, which is a non-profit, pays the city $1 a year to operate the theater.

But the facility is in need of serious repairs that would cost roughly $3 million according to Mayor Kathy Sheehan, who also sits on the Palace's board of directors.

Smith says assuming ownership of the theater would relieve taxpayers of that responsibility.

But he says this is about more than dollars and cents.

“We believe that the investments that we’re looking to make in arts education spaces not just for performing arts but also for video and audio editing arts, we believe that those would have a tremendous impact on those neighborhoods and on students throughout the greater region," he said.


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