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From PoJo: Big news about the old high school

"School district sells Beacon Studios to gallery owner with plans for art museum"


BEACON — The Beacon City School District has sold the former high school, also known as Beacon Studios, to New York City gallery owner Ethan Cohen.  

William Zopf, president of the school board, said that the sale took place Jan. 7 at a price of $1.2 million. 

The board has placed the proceeds in a reserve fund to buffer the tax impact of likely drops in state aid to the district, Zopf said. 

 Cohen said in a phone interview Friday that he and his partner, Zhu Ceng, plan to call the building the MOCA Beacon Art Community, with MOCA standing for museum of contemporary art. 

 Their vision involves a combination of commercial, residential and nonprofit uses, including an extension of his New York City gallery, an internationally themed museum for contemporary art, and rental spaces for artists.



Much more info in the article.

Views: 904

Tags: arts, high school, museum


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Comment by James Watkins on January 21, 2011 at 7:53am
I'm not sure what people are saying here:  Is the new situation at the old high school pro artist or anti artist?
Comment by Ben Royce on January 20, 2011 at 11:29pm

Atticus: Amen to that


Comment by JoAnne Meyer on January 18, 2011 at 12:57pm
This sounds like great news, more positive improvements for Beacon!! Yah!
Comment by Ben Royce on January 18, 2011 at 10:24am

Birdy: tone it down. Not nice and not true.


Comment by Birdy on January 18, 2011 at 10:19am
It wasn't just the balloon mortgage--and it is all public record. The cultural organization never made payments to the utitilies. Plus at one point, they were not renting to Beacon residents and would ask you were you lived before saying if there was space available.  I've been an artist for 30 years and never once expected a hand out because I was an artist. Which is what artists seem to be asking.  Dia has brought us national/international publicity most of the art work coming from here is lousy.  Do the artists support galleries/ other artists? I don't think so.  Most public art projects are between friends, not open calls or encouraging artists from say Newburgh, Woodstock to participate in projects which would bring people in.
Comment by Ben Royce on January 18, 2011 at 9:39am

James Watkins/ Charlene Vesuvius: obviously you care about Beacon, but comments like "Most artists I know complain about most everything" is not fact based and is not appreciated. Just keep it above board please.


Comment by James Watkins on January 18, 2011 at 9:15am

My comments are fact based, and not rumor based or local narrative based.  The history of the old high school is all in the public record and available for anyone who wants to take the time to look it up.  I did and it was a fun piece of research.  Cabot's analysis doesn't appear to be true, although I think his sentiment is correct.  As I said, Beacon gives a lot of lip service to being supportive of the arts, with committees and all that, but in reality does little if nothing substantive to help this community.  (And by the way I moved to Beacon a few years ago from Cold Spring and just didn't even think of updating my profile here.)


Here is what public documents say about the old High School.  The Beacon Cultural Foundation (run by Sara Pasti at the time) entered into a purchase agreement with the school district for $4.25 million.  The District received upfront $300,000 and agreed to provide a 5 year balloon mortgage for the property.  Regular interest and principal payments were built into the agreement, mostly in the form of free rent to the District for its Beacon Academy -- before the Foundation went bankrupt, the District had received the equivalent of nearly $1 Million additional dollars (monies that they would have spent on rentals someplace else.)  The superintendent of schools served on the Foundation's board to help maintain the partnership.


The foundation rented space -- on a month to month basis -- to artists and small creative businesses -- at below market rates, to help subsidize and build this segment of Beacon.  According to court records, at some point the Foundation went back to the School Board trying to renegotiate the purchase agreement.  It looks like there were two problems at work.  One is that it was clear the building was not worth 4.25 million and both sides ordered assessments that came in the $2.5 to $3 million range.  And two the Foundation couldn't afford to continue making payments under the original terms.  (Subprime situation if there ever was one.)


The negotiations fell apart, and the Foundation agreed to return the building to the District with the proviso that the District wouldn't mothball the building and instead would let the tenants stay.


The district finally sold the building, which appears to be a big white elephant, at a fire sale price.  My original point had nothing to do with the artists who have been just trying to maintain a workspace for themselves at a good price, but to point out the incompetence of the School District which we all pay a price for.  Court documents can be wrong, but this is what is in the record.


Comment by Ben Royce on January 18, 2011 at 8:39am

Tara: the James Watkins account is the same person who used to have the Charlene Vesuvius account here. This person doesn't live in Cold Spring, or Millbrook as previously claimed. This is a troll account. Don't let the troll "get your dander up," as the saying goes.


Comment by Cabot Parsons on January 18, 2011 at 8:13am

1.) The school board made a deal with the Beacon Cultural Foundation to purchase the facility and failed to get their money up front through requiring the foundation to get a mortgage, bond issue or other mechanism.  So when the foundation defaulted (and YES, it was more complicated than that, but to the point) the school got "stuck" again with a building and also were out the projected funds for the original sale, which is what the taxpayers have been paying out for in higher school taxes these past several years.

2.) The foundation that brought the artists into the space in the first place abandoned the project and left the artists high and dry.

3.) Artist rent has continued to offset costs of maintaining the building while finding another buyer, without which the building would have continued to deteriorate as well as perhaps fall prey to vandalism.  Lack of artist rent would have put further costs ON the tax payer, not the other way around.

4.) The artists in Beacon, collectively and individually, have along with Dia: Beacon kept the city in the national and international press for the past several years, kept people moving to and visiting the city at a time when many other towns this size across the country are collapsing or declining.  They give of their time, energy and resources to our schools, churches and other nonprofit groups and campaigns.  In such a small municipality with such tiny coffers, the contribution of the artists is a real part of our local economy.

Kudos to Beahive and First Presbyterian for opening their doors.  Welcome Mr. Cohen and Mr. Ceng.  You have acquired great resources of our city, both the building AND the artist tenants.  Please don't squander either one. Beacon has had more than its share of resources squandered for a while now. 

Comment by Tara on January 18, 2011 at 3:02am
Oh, come on. No artist went into this situation thinking they were going to ride on the backs of others. Artists usually work a ton of other survival jobs just to be able to create art on the side (for little or no money) and to be able to pay rent and bills, etc. Sad to think Beacon, a place that has benefited from these folks, are so ignorant about a typical artist's life. What you can afford is what you can afford. People got caught up in bad decision making. Let's stop pointing fingers and educate ourselves a bit. I am very saddened though, that James, whose profile says he lives in Cold Spring, is so pissed about paying taxes for complaining artists in Beacon????

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