Other NJ News

As Theater Demolition Progresses, New Brunswick Looks Toward the Future

Workers tear down the Crossroads Theatre this week, as seen from Bayard Street. Its longtime neighbor, the George Street Playhouse, is all but gone.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Walk around downtown New Brunswick during any workday and you'll hear it: the sounds of a changing city.

Workers, perched on cranes and manning excavators, tear into buildings and rubble off Livingston Avenue. Heavy machinery roars, and tumbling building materials rumble. The scatterbrained noise tells passersby that something is going on here.

And that something is the demolition of two heralded New Brunswick venues, the George Street Playhouse and the Crossroads Theatre. The Playhouse is now all but gone. The Crossroads still stands, but its facade is compromised, parts of it resembling a jagged shark bite.

Sign Up for E-News

The two buildings are coming down to make way for the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. The 22-story high-rise will feature two top-notch theaters, rehearsal spaces, offices, more than 200 luxury apartments and, in the rear off Bayard Street, a connected parking garage.

What officials and arts leaders have dreamed of for more than a decade is now coming to fruition. And demolition, which officials said began roughly one month ago, is the first concrete step toward what they hope will be an even better New Brunswick arts scene.

“With every project we do, we think it's going to be the project with the greatest impact—because so many are transformational, and others have had an extraordinary impact on the city,” Christopher Paladino, head of the New Brunswick Development Corporation, or Devco, the redeveloper for this initiative, told TAPinto New Brunswick. “I certainly feel the same way about this project.”



The George Street Playhouse once stood here, its marquee flanked by the trees.

But before anything new goes up, the old must come down.

Devco expects demolition to be completed by the end of this month. Immediately afterward, it plans for workers to begin digging the foundation of the new performing arts center. By mid-September, Paladino said, the project should enter “major construction mode,” with a groundbreaking ceremony targeted for early October.

That fast pace is no accident.

“We have no choice. We have deadlines with respect to our financing,” Paladino said. “We're going to build almost half a million square feet in 22 months.”

Because the mixed-use project uses state tax credits, amid a web of other financial arrangements, the building must be opened by summer 2019, according to officials. That means, in just a couple of months, the area near Livingston Avenue and George Street will become a breathing, buzzing construction site, teeming with masons, bricklayers and iron workers, Paladino said.

Just a few months ago, the Crossroads Theatre was busy putting on shows here.

And in just 12 days, on Aug. 23, he added, the partners in the sprawling project—from Devco and the city itself to Rutgers University and the New Brunswick Cultural Center—expect to close on the financing.

Nearly all of the construction documents are completed. The design work that remains touches mostly on cosmetics, like the look of the theaters' shared lobby, and which colors and fabrics to use, Paladino said.

But the big-picture stuff is in the books.

David Saint, George Street Playhouse's artistic director of 21 years, wasn't exactly sad to see his company's former home destroyed. The old theater—a former YMCA building—offered more problems than it did charm, he said.

The coming performing arts center, meanwhile, could prove a world-class home for Saint and his theater company—and whomever else chooses to host shows there. The American Repertory Ballet, for instance, already announced that it will move into the tower. Rutgers' Mason Gross will also hold performances there.

The remains of the George Street Playhouse.

Given New Brunswick's proximity to New York, it's quite possible that top talents in theater will choose to host early openings of plays bound for Broadway right here, in the Hub City, Saint said.

“It's been a long time coming, and I'm more than excited,” he told TAPinto New Brunswick. “I'm really walking on air about it.”

This point in time reminds Saint of when a top architect flew over New Brunswick many years ago at the request of John Heldrich, a legendary Johnson & Johnson executive who has since died. The architect pointed to a triangle carved out by three roads—Livingston, George and New Street—and declared it a magnet that should house the city's arts center, Saint said.

Decades later, and that arts center remains in the precise spot. But after just a month of demolition work, it's clear that its future won't look much like its past.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Franklin Township

Who is LD17 Republican State Assembly Candidate Robert Quinn?

August 18, 2017

I am Robert A. Quinn, Republican Candidate for State Assembly in Legislative District 17 and I’d like to provide the voters with more detail on who I am.

                A resident of Franklin Township, I was born in North Plainfield in 1976. I have lived in our great state of New Jersey nearly my entire life and ...

Video: Keep Kids Safe on Snap Chat with Help from Union County Sheriff's Office 

August 19, 2017

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Parents and kids all over are using the app “Snap Chat,” but are you sure it’s safe? Did you know that there are features in the app that allow someone to follow you or your kids? It’s called “Snap Map” and it allows users friends to see their exact location. 

Snap Chat can be fun when used with caution, according to experts, ...

New Brunswick Council Considers $1.1M Annual Payment Instead of Taxes for Easton Avenue Building

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The developer that plans to construct a nine-story, mixed-use building off Easton Avenue could pay $1.1 million each year instead of property taxes, if the City Council adopts a proposed ordinance tonight.

The developer, a subsidiary of the Missouri-based Collegiate Development Group, won approval from the city's zoning board in June to put up a 181-unit apartment ...

Residents Stand Against Racism and Hate at Piscataway Park

Editor's note: This article was written by Staci Berger, one of the event's organizers, not by a TAPinto staffer.

PISCATAWAY, NJ – Nearly 100 area residents and visitors came together to stand against bigotry and prejudice at a vigil held at Perrine Park on Rivercrest Drive in Piscataway Monday night. The “Vigil against Racism and Hate” event was one of many organized ...

South Brunswick: No Injuries As Firefighters Battle Wexford Drive Blaze (VIDEO)

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – No injuries were reported as more than 75 firefighters battled a two-alarm blaze in Monmouth Junction Monday afternoon, officials said.

Firefighters from the township and local area fought a fire at 10 Wexford Drive in the Monmouth Junction section of the township during the afternoon Monday.

At 2:26 p.m. a pizza delivery person reported the fire to ...

More Than 40,000 View Annual India Day Parade In Edison

EDISON, NJ – An estimated crowd of more than 40,000 came out Sunday afternoon for the 13th annual India Day Parade, organizers said.

According to a press release from the Indian Business Association, who sponsored the event, Indian Americans from all over the state attended the parade to celebrate India’s 71st Independence Day.

The parade included Bollywood star Riteish Deshmukh ...

Summer Break? Not Here. George Street Playhouse Preps Its Temporary Home for Fall Theater

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — You might think life moves slower on College Farm Road, at the edge of the city and the Rutgers University campus.

And if you were talking about the livestock, you'd be right. But for employees of George Street Playhouse, which recently transferred here from the heart of New Brunswick, this summer has moved faster than fire.

The day after the curtains closed on ...

Video: Keep Kids Safe on Snap Chat with Help from Union County Sheriff's Office 

August 19, 2017

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Parents and kids all over are using the app “Snap Chat,” but are you sure it’s safe? Did you know that there are features in the app that allow someone to follow you or your kids? It’s called “Snap Map” and it allows users friends to see their exact location. 

Snap Chat can be fun when used with caution, according to experts, ...

New Brunswick Council Considers $1.1M Annual Payment Instead of Taxes for Easton Avenue Building

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The developer that plans to construct a nine-story, mixed-use building off Easton Avenue could pay $1.1 million each year instead of property taxes, if the City Council adopts a proposed ordinance tonight.

The developer, a subsidiary of the Missouri-based Collegiate Development Group, won approval from the city's zoning board in June to put up a 181-unit apartment ...

Residents Stand Against Racism and Hate at Piscataway Park

Editor's note: This article was written by Staci Berger, one of the event's organizers, not by a TAPinto staffer.

PISCATAWAY, NJ – Nearly 100 area residents and visitors came together to stand against bigotry and prejudice at a vigil held at Perrine Park on Rivercrest Drive in Piscataway Monday night. The “Vigil against Racism and Hate” event was one of many organized ...

United by Misgivings, Area Protesters Express Anger with Trump, Extremists and Racism

August 17, 2017

 

SOMERVILLE, NJ  - A crowd of 75 protestors clutching hand-painted signs gathered outside the Unitarian Universalist Church on East Cliff Street Wednesday night expressing anger and frustration with current events and a troubled country increasingly polarized by political differences, racism and violence.

The signs read: "Love Has a Home in Somerville," ...

Patriots Drop Below .500 After Loss to York

 

BRIDGEWATER, NJ-   The York Revolution (20-13, 48-55) defeated the Somerset Patriots (15-16, 57-44) 5-2 before 6,071 fans at TD Bank Ballpark on Wednesday night.

The Revolution took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI single by Isaias Tejeda.

Jared Mitchell’s solo home run (10) in the fifth inning made the score 2-0 in favor of York.

The ...

United by Misgivings, Area Protesters Express Anger with Trump, Extremists and Racism

August 17, 2017

 

SOMERVILLE, NJ  - A crowd of 75 protestors clutching hand-painted signs gathered outside the Unitarian Universalist Church on East Cliff Street Wednesday night expressing anger and frustration with current events and a troubled country increasingly polarized by political differences, racism and violence.

The signs read: "Love Has a Home in Somerville," ...

Patriots Drop Below .500 After Loss to York

 

BRIDGEWATER, NJ-   The York Revolution (20-13, 48-55) defeated the Somerset Patriots (15-16, 57-44) 5-2 before 6,071 fans at TD Bank Ballpark on Wednesday night.

The Revolution took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI single by Isaias Tejeda.

Jared Mitchell’s solo home run (10) in the fifth inning made the score 2-0 in favor of York.

The ...

Video: Keep Kids Safe on Snap Chat with Help from Union County Sheriff's Office 

August 19, 2017

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Parents and kids all over are using the app “Snap Chat,” but are you sure it’s safe? Did you know that there are features in the app that allow someone to follow you or your kids? It’s called “Snap Map” and it allows users friends to see their exact location. 

Snap Chat can be fun when used with caution, according to experts, ...