TriBeCa museum dedicated to Jackie Robinson may never open despite fortune spent on yearly rent-NY Post
"A TriBeCa museum dedicated to Jackie Robinson is three years overdue — and may never open despite spending a fortune on rent.
The Jackie Robinson Foundation has raised only a fraction of the $42 million it says is needed to honor the Brooklyn Dodger who shattered Major League Baseball’s color barrier.
The museum was first slated to open on the ground floor of One Hudson Square in lower Manhattan in 2010.
Instead, its founders are paying $500,000 a year to rent a shell where the 11,000-square-foot exhibition is supposed to be.
The museum has long been a dream of the legendary second baseman’s widow, Rachel Robinson, who founded the nonprofit 40 years ago to provide college scholarships to minority students.
At 90 years old, she’s living in New York and still pushing to keep the museum alive. One day it will house a theater with historic footage and home movies and letters and artifacts from No. 42 himself.
Robinson’s foundation — which had an operating budget of $6.4 million last fiscal year — has collected several five- and six-figure donations from heavy-hitters like MLB, the Mets and the Yankees. Goldman Sachs, Nike, GE and Unilever are also donors, according to 2011 tax documents.
But roughly $6.9 million of that has gone to rent since 2007, when the nonprofit signed a 20-year lease with Trinity Real Estate.
Tax documents reveal the nonprofit spends about $1.3 million annually to rent the vacant first floor and a second-floor space housing the foundation offices. That’s more than the $1.2 million it gave out in scholarships in 2011.
More than a third of that rent expense — $546,000 per year in 2011 and 2012 — goes just to pay for the empty museum space. All told, the group has spent at least $2.1 million since 2007 on space it has never utilized.
The foundation also burned through $613,798 in salaries in 2011, paying president and CEO Della Britton Baeza $229,572 and chief operations officer La’Tonya Johnson $144,694.
The foundation had to take out a $3.8 million mortgage to “finance the foundation’s operation,” according to 2007 tax forms.
“We ran into a difficult period during the market recession,” said civil-rights lawyer Norman Siegel, who’s been on the museum’s board since 1979. “That’s why we’ve had delays.”
Spokeswoman Allison Davis said the foundation needs $20 million for construction and $22 million for an endowment to get the museum to first base.
So far, the nonprofit has raised only $13 million in “firm commitments,” she said.
Jackie Robinson’s son, David Robinson, 61, wouldn’t comment on the museum’s troubles but said he was hopeful that it would open soon.
“Current and future generations need to have examples of men of courage who showed how integration and equality benefited [our] entire society,” he said.
“For my mother, personally, and this generation, the timing is wonderful for it to happen now.”"
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