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The Reeler Blog

This Week in Territorialism: Whose Tribeca is it Anyway?

I'm a little behind on this, but it's a bit underreported and the story certainly isn't going anywhere: You may have seen Page Six's heads-up Tuesday about an increasingly nasty domain-ownership dispute between Robert De Niro's lawyers and the owners of The actor insists it's a trademark violation (especially considering the site's short film and arts hosting), but fellow Tribecans, including site owner Chuck Harris, say De Niro is being little more than a "bully." They're probably both right to some degree; you can't go launching a de facto film site invoking the Tribeca name three years after De Niro and Co. did the heavy (i.e. expensive) lifting; even the Tribeca Underground Film Festival has all but changed its name since launching in '04, moving on to its more nondescript present-day BEfilm aegis. But De Niro doesn't actually own Tribeca, so naturally the lawyers will sort this out while locals take the NYC vs. Hollywood sides that seem so popular these days (more on that later, hopefully).

Meanwhile, have you seen what the Tribeca Film Festival itself has planned for Hudson River Park? As reported by Downtown Express's Lincoln Anderson:

According to the RFP (request for proposal) submission, done by The Related Companies, Pier 40 (Performing Arts Center) “will become the premier destination spot for evening activity in Downtown Manhattan, delivering an exciting combination of entertainment activities, bustling with activity.... Practically, 600,000 square feet of continuous development site is near impossible to assemble in New York City. The opportunity here is powerful,” the proposal states.

The PAC plan includes an 84,000-square-foot Cirque du Soleil theater — home to 75 acrobats and dancers — as well as a 10,000-square-foot Cirque du Soleil restaurant, 30,000-square-foot Cirque nightclub, a V.I.P. lounge and 9,000-square-foot Cirque CD’s shop.
Also part of the complex would be a 60,000-square-foot multiplex movie theater programmed by the Tribeca Film Festival, which would be a screening venue for the festival, while showing art films and independent films the rest of the year. Additionally, the Cirque theater would be used for four weeks each year as a screening venue for the film festival.

The cost? $626 million -- "more than the cost of the entire park itself," writes Anderson. Its competition, positioning itself as "The People's Pier," proposed a plan more resolved to retrofit the pier's existing structures with athletics and educational facilities for area youth and other downtown residents (don't forget the long-term community parking). No cost is noted in Anderson's piece, but my hunch is that it doesn't break a quarter of that of the Tribeca plan.

A spokeswoman for the festival told me Wednesday that she was still looking into the Pier 40 matter herself; I'll bring you more as this develops. But check out Anderson's story when you get a few minutes; if you think the neighborhood has its hands full with a URL, it had better get out the wheelbarrow for the RFP.

Posted at January 4, 2007 2:56 PM

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