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Is neighborhood development turning a pivotal corner on Buffalo’s East Side?

Torn Space Theater is expanding its footprint.

For 15 years, Torn Space Theater has been in residence at the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle located at at the corner of Fillmore Avenue and Paderewski Drive in Buffalo’s east side, just down the street from the Central Terminal.

Yesterday, as I was driving by, I noticed that the old Gas Mart, previously attached to the Mickiewicz had been deconstructed. A sign by RP Oak Hill is attached to the fence. This can only mean good news for Buffalo as we reported back in April of 2015, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced “the first recipients of funding through the Better Buffalo Fund, a $30 million Buffalo Billion initiative dedicated to projects that encourage density and growth along transportation corridors and revitalize neighborhood commercial districts. A total of $11,722,500 was awarded to 21 projects, including nine on the East Side, which will contribute to the renovation of more than 200 residential units and more than 50,000 sq.ft. of storefront and commercial space.”

Torn Space was awarded a grant for $175,000, which was said to include:

…façade and interior renovation of the existing theater and adaptive reuse of the adjacent cement block building into a workshop, video sound lab and office finished with stainless steel panels, making it a unique signature building. Adjacent abandoned lots will be transformed into an outdoor stage for community use.

Initial renderings for the project were divulged last year.

As reported in The Buffalo News in 2016, Torn Space was also the recipient of proceeds from the Junior League’s 2015 Decorators’ Show House and that was estimated to be around $275,000. At that time, Torn Space Theater co-founder and artistic director Dan Shanahan said “the grant will enable his company to expand its presence on Fillmore Avenue. The grant will fund a $700,000 renovation of its theater in the historic Adam Mickiewicz Dramatic Circle and Library and the construction of a separate design studio in a former gas station next door.”

Looks like this game-changing project is underway, and we plan to keep a close eye on that corner. Torn Space Theater Company resides in the Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle, a nonprofit private club founded in 1895, which is located on Fillmore Avenue in Buffalo’s eastside, “The Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle is a non-profit membership-based organization founded in 1895. It is the oldest Polish American organization in Western New York and is the oldest surviving Polish library in Buffalo. The library holds about 12,000 volumes with 400 hand-copied plays. The bar serves over 50 different imported beers with a large Polish selection. The “Circle” is home to most of Torn Space’s Theater productions and a large annual Dyngus Day party, as well as other cultural events.”

This project, once complete, would secure and stabilize a cultural and historic gem in Buffalo’s East Side. This is much needed good news, after the demolishing of Salem Evangelical Church on Monday, a National Register eligible property built in 1907.

If you would like an opportunity to check out Torn Space Theatre and the Mickiewicz Library, Torn Space Theater, is hosting their 2nd Annual RESPONSE Festival from August 18 – 20 and September 15 – 16, 2017 which will include events at the Theater, as well as at Silo City. Click here for more information on RESPONSE:

Artistic director, Dan Shanahan, and associate director, Melissa Meola, established RESPONSE Festival as a source of internationally acclaimed contemporary performance, not currently found in Western New York. Torn Space Theater offers both original drama and new interpretations of existing plays in collaboration with local actors, composers, sculptors, video artists and designers.

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Written by Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli is a WNY native, born and raised in the Lincoln Park area of Tonawanda. She has been involved in local politics from an early age and is currently a Tonawanda Democratic Committee Member. As an avid equestrian and animal-lover, she trained and re-homed over 40 horses. For over a decade, she was an event planner with the law firm, Hodgson Russ LLP, and now owns her own marketing and event management company. She has worked with international and national organizations on large and small scale events. Jessica writes on politics and local events, as well as working with Buffalo Rising as a social reporter.

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