NEWARK, NJ - A 238-foot high luxury residential tower that overlooks Military Park and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center is finished and open for leasing.

One Theater Square has been 11 years in the making. The building was developed by Dranoff Properties, and the president of the company today called the project a “game-changer” at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“One Theater Square is the building that Newark deserves and the one that will allow it to take its place as a world-class city,” Carl Dranoff said. “It offers luxury living to rival anything in New York, Jersey City, Hoboken or any place for that matter.”  

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The 22-story tower at 2 Center St. features a fitness center, yoga studio, high-end finishes and boasts sprawling views of Newark’s cityscape and Manhattan’s skyline from balconies. The 245-unit building consists of studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments and has 285 on-site parking spots. Space for four retail shops is also available in the building.

Twenty-four affordable housing units are set aside, which could allow a person making $30,000 annually to live in the luxury high rise, Mayor Ras Baraka said. Unsubsidized units start at $2,310 a month for a studio and go up to $4,450 for a three-bedroom apartment.

MORE: 774 Applicants and Counting for Affordable Units in Newark's Luxury Apartments

To date, 100 units have already been rented, officials said. Baraka said the speed at which units are being snatched up shows how quickly Newark is becoming a "destination city" that's transforming the Downtown into an arts district. 

"There are affordable units here even before we pushed the inclusionary zoning ordinance, there were affordable units here," Baraka said. "I'm told that (for) people who are making $30,000 a year there are units set aside for folks that make that little amount of money as well. So that's an incredible testament of what we're doing in the city of Newark, trying to bring inclusionary development."

NJPAC CEO John Schreiber in 2013 took the helm of the Theater Square Development Company, which controlled the land on which the project was built and put out a request for proposal for the project. 

Schreiber will live on the 23rd floor of the building, so “there's no excuse to be late for work,” Dranoff joked. (While the building is 22-stories, 23 floors exist because there is no 13th floor.)

"From the moment you broke ground, it's really been a love affair between all of us and the product that everyone will see when you go across the street is Grade A, nothing finer," Schreiber said. "The fact that in just three months you've rented 100 units is proof positive that the time is right for this building in this city, and as we know there's so much more like it on the way."

Among those who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony today were former Gov. Thomas Kean. Schreiber thanked him for having the foresight to preserve acreage around NJPAC years ago, which allowed for a project like One Theater Square.

State Sen. Teresa Ruiz also attended the ceremony. She noted that the project needed “legislative fix” that extended the deadline for the development to receive funds from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

"What I want to see as a 44-year-old veteran of the city of Newark - born, raised and homeowner - is to see community down here. So that after 5 o'clock and after six and seven, when I come down here with my family, I want to be stuck in traffic. I want to run into people walking on the neighborhood blocks, I want to see that call of community that will lend itself to another level of economic development."

The $118 million project was a public and private partnership, Dranoff Properties COO Julia Gutstadt said. City officials awarded the project a grant and a revenue allocation bond worth $12 million, while $33 million was received from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority through an urban transit hub tax credit,  Gutstadt explained.

The project also received $26 million in bridge financing from Prudential and the rest of the project was funded through lenders and investors, Gutstadt added.

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