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Editorial: Chance to save the other Proctor's

Editorial: Chance to save the other Proctor's

Restoring historic theater makes better sense than partial or complete demolition

While Proctors in Schenectady has a rich history and present, the one in Troy has only the history. But now, thanks to an apparent change in plans on the part of a developer, it could also have a future. Bravo!

There have been no performances at the Troy Proctor’s for the last 30 years, and various efforts to reopen it as a theater have gone nowhere. It was bought by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2004, which planned to turn it into a hotel and conference center, but that didn’t happen. A plan emerged last year where a developer would have saved the handsome, distinctive facade but demolished the theater and created new office space in its place.

That would have been better than demolishing both interior and exterior, but not much. A building like this cannot be broken into parts and is more than the sum of them. Proctor’s still beautiful, but neglected and deteriorated inside needs to be restored and reused as a theater if at all possible.

Fortunately, it appears the demo plan has been at least put on hold by the developer as the city considers moving its offices into vacant office space attached and adjacent to the theater. Last year City Hall was relocated temporarily to the Verizon building on Sixth Street after abandoning the modern eyesore along the river it had been in since the mid-1970s.

The developer’s plan doesn’t call for restoration of Proctor’s, but it would secure and stabilize it while a new group called Save Troy Proctor’s tries to find a way to restore and reuse it. The difficulty of that shouldn’t be underestimated at a time when arts organizations are suffering, and there is little money for anything.

It would certainly help if some of the $4.5 million in state RestoreNY money earmarked for the theater’s demolition and replacement could go toward restoring it. As for reuse, a combination of movies and live entertainment seems to offer the best hope. Or perhaps the New York State Theatre Institute, itself troubled and in danger of extinction, but still with many friends and supporters, could take the theater over.

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