The Paul Taylor Dance Company, founded in 1954 by the renowned choreographer, has long been one of the city’s most prominent troupes. But it has struggled in recent years to find space to match its ambitions for more performances, rehearsals, classes and community events.
No longer. The company on Tuesday announced a major expansion that would more than triple its footprint, moving its headquarters to a Midtown Manhattan office tower next year from its current home on the Lower East Side. The company will use the space to build more dance studios and expand its education programs.
“It’s a new era,” said John Tomlinson, the company’s executive director. “There’s more opportunity for us.”
Under a leasehold agreement with George Comfort & Sons, a real estate investment and management firm, the Taylor company will essentially own two floors of a tower on West 38th Street for 30 years. The company and George Comfort will split the costs, around $8 million to $10 million, to renovate the 31,000-square-foot space and build dance studios.
Tomlinson said the new space would allow the company to attract more artists and students, given its proximity to major transportation hubs. The company, which plans to move to the new space early next year, also operates the Taylor School, offering dance classes for adults and children.
“We found this location that is about as close to the crossroads of the world as you can possibly be,” Tomlinson said. “And we found a landlord who was, incredibly, willing to invest with us and interested in seeing us become part of that community. And so it became a perfect match made in heaven.”
The leasehold arrangement will allow the Taylor company, a nonprofit, and George Comfort to claim an exemption from property taxes on the space.
George Comfort said it was pleased to help the dance troupe expand its presence in the city.
“World-renowned cultural institutions like the Paul Taylor Dance Company are the lifeblood of New York City and a key component to the Big Apple’s enduring allure,” Peter S. Duncan, the president and chief executive of George Comfort & Sons, said in a statement.
Paul Taylor, whose founder died in 2018, is one of the few dance companies in New York with a substantial real estate footprint. (Others include Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Mark Morris Dance Group and Dance Theater of Harlem.) Dance troupes have long struggled to find affordable space to rehearse and perform in the city, one of the world’s most expensive markets, especially since the pandemic, which has created new financial pressures for performing arts groups.
The pandemic forced Paul Taylor to cancel many performances and tours, hurting its revenues; the company’s budget fell to about $6.4 million in 2022 from about $10 million in 2019.
But the company has started to recover. The budget is now roughly $8.3 million and box office sales are roughly at prepandemic levels, totaling nearly $800,000 for its current fiscal year. The company last fall completed its annual season at Lincoln Center, which attracted 25,239 people, compared with 26,104 in 2019. The company has tours planned this year in the United States as well as Italy.
After its move to Midtown, the Taylor company will maintain its roughly 13,000-square-foot space on the Lower East Side, which it has been leasing for about 15 years. That space will be used for performances and community programs; it will also be rented out for events.