Demolition of Gelsey Kirkland’s dance school in DUMBO approved

Office building is proposed replacement for 29 Jay St.

November 13, 2018 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Gelsey Kirkland, whose dance school in DUMBO is going to be demolished, is shown here dancing the pas de deux from “Le Corsaire” with Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1975. AP File Photo/Dina Makarova
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Tear it down.

The wrecking ball is headed for famous ballerina Gelsey Kirkland’s dance school in the DUMBO Historic District.

On Tuesday, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission gave the owner of 29 Jay St. the go-ahead to demolish the warehouse where the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet and a theatre called the GK Arts Center are located.

The property owner is planning to construct an 11-story office and retail building at the site on the corner of Jay and Plymouth streets.

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During a public meeting at the preservation agency’s Manhattan headquarters, commissioners voted unanimously to approve the demolition of the existing building and Marvel Architects’ design for the proposed new building.

At a September hearing, several commissioners objected to various aspects of the architecture firm’s original design for the proposed 148-foot-tall development.

In the revised design for 29 Jay St., Marvel Architects increased the height and width of concrete panels on the building’s facade and made the windows smaller.

“This building does really now fit in” with historic DUMBO properties, Landmarks Preservation Commission Vice Chairman Fred Bland said before the vote.

In September, Bland said the original design would be more appropriate in a Manhattan office district like Bryant Park than in DUMBO.

‘Dancing on My Grave’

Kirkland is a living legend of the dance world.

She made a big splash in 1970 in the lead role in a new production of “Firebird” that famed George Balanchine choreographed.

Later, as a star of the American Ballet Theatre, Kirkland danced with Mikhail Baryshnikov after his 1974 defection from the Soviet Union.

Kirkland published a memoir in 1986 called “Dancing on My Grave” that became a bestseller. She has devoted herself to teaching dance since the late 1980s.

She founded the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet in 2010 with her husband, choreographer Michael Chernov.

Though the Landmarks Preservation Commission has approved the demolition of 29 Jay St.,  for now, the dance school will remain in the building. 

“We have a very good relationship with our landlord and have not made any plans so far regarding relocation,” Chernov told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Dance School Was Originally in Tribeca

Initially, Kirkland and Chernov set up the dance academy in rented space in Tribeca. They moved out of that location when the landlord sold the building and in 2015 relocated the school to 29 Jay St., the Wall Street Journal reported.

There was already a theatre inside 29 Jay St. because St. Ann’s Warehouse had been the building’s prior tenant. Kirkland and Chernov turned other space in the building into dance studios.  

The office building planned for 29 Jay St. will be called the Forman Building. The site belongs to a limited liability company with Peter Forman as a member, city Finance Department records indicate.

Forman Ferry LLC is seeking zoning changes in order to construct the proposed office building. If that effort proves unsuccessful, the property owner plans to construct an apartment building instead.





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