2474 Westchester Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461 718-918-2110
Home of Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre and The Bronx Dance Coalition
mostly empty to 95% leased with the New York City’s Human Resource Administration signing a 20 year lease for 200,000 square feet of space. The partner in the deal is Denham Wolf Real Estate Services, a consulting and development firm providing nonprofit organizations with real estate-related services. This leader in supporting arts groups lists the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Symphony Space and the Atlantic Theater Company as featured projects. A year after they purchased the BankNote property the Hunts Point Express reported in the September 2, 2009 edition that the artists in the BankNote moved out because they “can’t afford the sharp rent hikes that have been imposed since developers bought the building in late 2007.” BAAD! was the only arts organization left and is the last original tenant that was apart of the arts movement in the historic building. BAAD! Must Pay to Leave Since there were two years left on BAAD!’s lease, the billion dollar Taconic asked BAAD!, whose budget is about $300,000 per year, to pay the two years rent left on their lease, about $70,000. Taconic stated that their lender, IStar, would not let them allow BAAD! out of its lease without paying. Many supporters, including the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, advocated to request that BAAD! be let out of its lease to take advantage of the new space, particularly since Taconic created the conditions that forced them to leave. Taconic and Istar, agreed to have BAAD! vacate its space before its lease was up under the conditions that BAAD! pay up to six months of rent to be let out of its lease unless they find a tenant beforehand. There is precedence of Taconic/Denham Wolf paying a tenant to leave and finding them a space with Bronxworks led by Carolyn McLaughlin at that time, but didn't extend that offer to Aviles and Rice-González. “We hoped for fair treatment, but I suppose they consider the way we were treated to be fair,” commented Rice-González, the organization’s executive director. “Their decision didn’t even make business sense because they stand to gain financially since BAAD! was paying $10 per square foot for its space and the new tenants coming in to the Banknote on the very floor we occupied, are paying $20 and $25 per square foot.” BAAD!’s move is happening just as the organization is preparing its milestone 15th anniversary celebration and as it’s about to announce a new artist in residency program called the BAAD! Muse that springs from the idea that it’s the artists who are the muses that inspire BAAD! to be motivated and engaged. “This move has a silver lining,” shared Mr. Rice-Gonzalez. “It has provided an opportunity for individual supporters and funders, like the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York Community Trust and Lambent Foundation, to join a team of support for our effort that will enable us to seamlessly continue our programming in a state-of-the-art space and better serve our artists and audiences.” BAAD!’s work has been described by The New York Times as tenacious art that “sprouts like grass through concrete in the Bronx, courtesy of the pioneering efforts of Arthur Aviles and friends.” It’s with that tenacity that BAAD! continues to exist and that it will keep a safe home for the arts in the Bronx. # # #
For Immediate Release/October 21, 2013 Contact: Charles Rice-Gonzalez/917-604-3598
(Bronx,NY) – As real estate changes challenge the arts in the South Bronx, BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, has found a new home to keep the arts safe in the Bronx. The organization, named one of the seven pillars of culture in the Bronx by the Bronx Council on the Arts, learned that after 14 years at the American Banknote Building in Hunts Point, the current landlords, Taconic Investment Partners and Denham Wolf Real Estate Services, chose to follow real estate trends in the South Bronx and not offer a long term lease to the organization. In addition, they said they’d consider adding only one year to the current lease at twice the current rent. BAAD! held strong to its commitment to its artists and audiences, and avoided becoming a statistic by finding a new home before it faced eviction. So, BAAD! has moved into a recently renovated theater in a gothic revivalist style building on the grounds of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in the Bronx at 2474 Westchester Avenue.
The award-winning artists, celebrated dancer and choreographer, Arthur Aviles, and writer and activist, Charles Rice-González, founded BAAD! in December 1998. For 14 years, BAAD! blazed a path for professional art and dance in the Bronx and has garnered local and national attention for its work. The New York Times crowned BAAD! “a funky and welcoming performance space” and Theater Journal said, “they have created a space for art in an environment that seems antithetical to that act.” The organization has received many awards including a Mayor’s Art and Culture Award and has had major feature articles and reviews in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, New York Post, El Diario, The New Yorker, Dance Magazine, Time-Out New York, and on media outlets. When Aviles and Rice-González started BAAD!, they never imagined they’d look back to see that they’d presented nearly 5000 artists who presented works that were empowering to women, people of color and the LGBTQ community. They witnessed over 20,000 people come up to the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx to see shows at BAAD! which was once 3500 square feet of unused, unattended space in the legendary warehouse. The duo began presenting their signature annual festivals in 2001 with the first BAAD!Ass Women Festival and the first Out Like That! Festival, which has been the only LGBTQ specific cultural festival consistently celebrating gay pride in the Bronx. In 2002, they added The Boogie Down Dance Series and the BlakTino Performance Series to their roster. This December they will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their holiday show, Los Nutcrackers: A Christmas Carajo. For over a decade, they’ve seamlessly interwoven art for LGBTQ people, women and people of color into all the festivals. BAAD! became a home for many artists who were marginalized from other spaces or who were not treated with the same value as they received at BAAD! “This is a powerful and painful move for us. Powerful because we are driven to keep the arts alive and strong for our community of artists and people. And it’s painful because we didn’t choose to leave the home we built for 14 years, but the conditions were created so that we had to leave. We tried working within the system and we put up a fight, but I wonder, with all the support we received, what are the conditions that allow real estate developers to continue to have the power to displace the arts and artists?” stated Mr. Aviles who serves as the organization’s artistic director.Real Estate Changes Displace Artists In 2007, Taconic Investment Partners along with Denham Wolf Real Estate Services purchased the American Banknote building for $32 million and at an opening ceremony invited Aviles to dance and promised a bustling arts space with creative industries and lofts. Taconic is one of the top three real estate companies in New York City and was one of the three companies leading the $1.8 billion dollar Google purchase of 111 8th Avenue in 2010. Taconic also recently boasted that it purchased a building at 450 Park Avenue for $200 million and sold it for $500 million; put condominiums on pre-sale in Tribeca that ranged between $3.9 million and $22 million; and announced that the Banknote went from being mostly