The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and Dranoff Properties today broke ground on One Theater Square, the long-awaited 22-story skyscraper directly across the street from the Newark-based arts center. The $116-million building will consist of 245 apartments (26 of which will be affordable housing), 12,000 square feet of ground level retail, a 285-car parking garage, 24-hour concierge service, a fitness center, club rooms and outdoor entertainment space. To be completed in 2018, the building is the first ground-up residential high rise to be built in Newark since 1960.
“One Theater Square embodies a vision of downtown Newark more than a quarter century in the making,” John Schreiber, president and CEO of NJPAC, said at today’s event. “We are celebrating the result of the visionary work of NJPAC founders Governor Thomas Kean; philanthropist Ray Chambers; NJPAC’s first CEO Larry Goldman, the State of New Jersey; and the City of Newark.”
Schreiber said the timing to move forward on One Theater Square “never seemed to be quite right.” However, he credited the many parties involved for fighting to see the project come to fruition. “This took much resilience, faith and creativity. … It is the next exciting chapter in the history of Newark.”
Governor Thomas Kean, who introduced the concept of building a performing arts decades ago, said NJPAC was the building block to bring back “the greatest city in the state. Today, I am seeing my dream come true.”
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka credited NJPAC’s Schreiber and Carl Dranoff of Dranoff Properties for getting the project “into the end zone for a touchdown.” He said other developers were trying to dissuade the city from pursuing the project, but Baraka said One Theater Square will now “make Newark the place we want it to be.” Baraka also praised former Newark mayors Sharpe James and Corey Booker for keeping the project alive during their time in office.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) provided $33 million in Urban Transit Hub tax credits towards the project. Other financial partners include Prudential Financial and Fifth Third Bank.
Larry Goldman recalled that during the first initial talks surrounding an arts center, NJPAC was intended to be more than a perfect space for the arts. “It was intended to be a beacon and transformational agent for the city,” he said.
At a time when legacies are at risk of being diluted, Goldman said that what was “reaffirmed at today’s groundbreaking was a smooth, uninterrupted transference of NJPAC’s mission and values.”