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World Trade Center arts space gets $100 million

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The long-stalled Performing Arts Center planned for Lower Manhattan's rebuilt World Trade Center got a $100 million boost on Wednesday though its opening is years away.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor David Paterson agreed to give the new center, which will house The Joyce Theater dance company, this share of the federal dollars Congress granted after the deadly September 11, 2001 air attacks.

Plans for the complex have been repeatedly modified as other World Trade Center projects took precedence and various arts groups flirted with the center only to back out.

But politicians, including Bloomberg, said the center was vital because it will give the district a vibrant nightlife.

Linda Shelton, executive director of The Joyce Theater, which showcases dance companies performing everything from classical ballet to buhto, a Japanese dance, estimated that the new complex will cost "somewhere around" $300 million.

Noting there is no final budget, Shelton made it clear The Joyce will be seeking donations, saying there "are great opportunities for naming." Buildings -- whether public or private -- are often named after the most generous donors or officials deemed worthy of honoring.

In 2006, another $55 million of federal aid was set aside for the Performing Arts Center, which includes a 1,000-seat theater, outdoor plazas, classrooms and a smaller theater.

Though work on the foundation began a few weeks ago, construction cannot begin on the rest of the arts center for several years, a Bloomberg spokesman said.

The World Trade Center rebuilding is an extraordinarily complicated construction site, partly because active city subways run through it. The new arts center will share a foundation with the new PATH station for the commuter trains that link New Jersey with New York City, the spokesman said.

The Performing Arts Center "has to wait until parts of the transportation hub are complete, and putting that together takes several years," he said. After that, it should take about three years to build the new Performing Arts Center.

(Reporting by Joan Gralla, Editing by Andrew Hay)

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