Redevelopment

Planning Board Approves Ambitious Plans for New Brunswick Cultural Center Redevelopment

2a748965d7321026d11c_nb_pb_cc_3.jpg
Devco's president, Christopher Paladino, reviews a rendering of New Brunswick's performing arts center this week in City Hall.
2a748965d7321026d11c_nb_pb_cc_3.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The city’s downtown performing arts center is one step closer to becoming reality.

The Planning Board approved the proposal for a mixed-use tower off Livingston Avenue and a corresponding Bayard Street parking deck at its meeting this week. While the New Brunswick Development Corporation, or Devco, has scaled down the scope of the project, officials believe it will ignite New Brunswick’s arts and theater scene, boosting business in the area.

“This is the most significant, broad-spectrum public-private partnership in the history of New Jersey,” Christopher Paladino, Devco’s president, said. “It may be the most important civic space ever built in the City of New Brunswick.”

Sign Up for E-News

Plans call for a 22-story building featuring 71,000 square feet of theater and rehearsal pace, 31,000 square feet of office space and 220,000 square feet—or 18 floors—of rental apartments priced at affordable and market rates, according to a document provided by Devco. A 344-space parking garage, which will include a street-level, windowed ballet rehearsal space, and additional on-site stalls are also slated to take root in the area.

The budget for the project totals $167.8 million, according to Devco.

The sleek, glass-windowed tower would house the George Street Playhouse and the Crossroads Theatre. Their current buildings, which sit on proposed building’s footprint, are scheduled to be demolished over the next few months.

It’d also bring the American Repertory Ballet to New Brunswick. What’s more, Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts is set to occupy a portion of the building following a $17 million commitment from the university.

Earlier plans for the performing arts center aimed for 25 stories, nearly 270 apartments and a $215 million budget. Paladino said his team downsized its vision due to functional and economic reasons.

“We feel it works better,” he said.

But the project calls for two “state-of-the-art” theaters with orchestra pits and rehearsal and studios, which the developer and its representatives said would compete with those on Broadway in New York City. Together, the theaters would include a total of roughly 700 seats, or 200 more than what currently exists, according to Devco.

Officials hope the extra room will enable another 220 performances per year. That, they said, could draw an additional 80,000 people to New Brunswick.

The two theaters would share a lobby, which would serve food and drinks.

“The intent is to bring people together,” architect David Manfredi said on behalf of Devco.

The residential portion of the building, meanwhile, would include 42 affordable units. Rents for them would range between $550 and $1,400, said Richard Barnhart, CEO of Pennrose, the property-management firm that would handle the apartments.

Project leaders said they hope to partner with the Actors Fund of America to ensure local artists, performers and support staffers take advantage of the affordable units.

Parking for the project exceeds the minimum amount required by city code, according to Devco’s experts. Two residents said the developer should reconsider adding so many spaces, a point that Planning Board members appreciated but isn’t often heard in New Brunswick.

A number of residents spoke during the meeting. Some praised Devco, the city and their many partners for their dedication to the arts in New Brunswick. But others expressed concerns about how the building will fit into the neighborhood.

They cited possible increases to traffic and winds, along with the potential for disturbing signage or lighting. Paladino and his team assured residents the project wouldn’t negatively affect its neighbors, although some residents remained skeptical.

“It’s a huge building,” a man named Patrick Clark said. “I’m not confident it’s compatible with surrounding land uses.”

Construction on the project is set to begin this summer and end in July 2019.

The project is expected to be financed through a number of means, including millions of dollars in tax credits from the state Economic Development Authority.

It has drawn attention from media and officials across New Jersey.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - April 20, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

ON THE ROAD - It looks like a State Police trooper is going to have to head to the bars to pick up chicks, indicted yesterday for intentionally pulling over women in a desperate attempt to land dates. Internal affairs learned the Trooper was pulling over two lovely ladies at the end of 2016, threatening to arrest them if they didn't hand over their ...

The Jaffe Briefing - April 19, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

PLAINFIELD - Those who dabble in Union County politics are learning this morning that the former Democratic chairman, Jerry Green, has died at age 79 after a long illness. Green, a longtime assemblyman from Plainfield, rose through the ranks from serving on the freeholder board in the late 1980s.  He will be remembered as a Roselle native, a ...

The Jaffe Briefing - April 18, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

PATERSON - At campaign rallies, why not just cut to the chase? That's what's happening in the Silk City, where a local social media celebrity was handing out $20 bills to would-be voters at a rally on Sunday for mayoral contender Pedro Rodriguez. Our favorite entertainer of all time, Fatboy SSE, had a thick wad of cash, which he was passing out ...

The Jaffe Briefing - April 17, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

AT THE POLLING BOOTH - Guess what? New Jerseyans don't like the Trump tax plan. It's also not surprising that a potential voter revolt could flip all five of the state's Republican House seats, according to a new Monmouth University poll. NJ.com reports that the new federal tax bill disproportionately hurts taxpayers in New Jersey ...

The Jaffe Briefing - April 16, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - As Gov. Phil Murphy was in Cleveland to celebrate his buddy, Jon Bon Jovi, who entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday, the paperwork is piling up at the office. NJ.com is quick to note we are approaching the end of the first 100 days of the Murphy Administration and there are a gaggle of bills to sign or reject. Lots of ...

The Jaffe Briefing - April 13, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

STATEWIDE - One would think Gov. Phil Murphy, as our powerful chief executive, would be paid among the highest of all state employees after, of course, the Rutgers head football coach. But the Asbury Park Press has revealed a startling fact: there are more than 1,060 government employees who earn more than the governor. Murphy makes a ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, April 22, 11:00 AM

Joyce Kilmer Park, New Brunswick

Mercado Esperanza

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Carousel_image_f91ed86077ea29dfd56e_image

Sun, April 22

Plainsboro

Project Feeder Watch

Green Home & Garden

Sun, April 22, 2:00 PM

Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, New Brunswick

NBCO@Zimmerli

Arts & Entertainment

Rutgers professor named Pulitzer Prize finalist

April 19, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - For Evie Shockley, poetry – and her professorship at Rutgers University–New Brunswick – are central to her engagement with a world that needs change and central to the ways she prepares students to do their own engagement.

This week, Shockley was selected as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in the poetry category. The Pulitzer ...

Rutgers Professor Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

NEW BRUNSWICK - Helen M. Berman, Board of Governors distinguished professor emerita of chemistry and chemical Biology at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Berman is among 213 people elected to the academy this year, including author Ta-Nehisi Coates, actor Tom Hanks, President Barack Obama, Supreme ...

Questions now swirl around reported Rutgers theft

NEW BRUNSWICK - A crime alert issued by Rutgers police about an armed robbery on Tuesday April 10 has turned out to be false. 

Upon further investigation, police said the alleged incident in front of the Campbell Hall dorm on George Street did not happen as was initially reported. Police had said initially that the suspect showed a handgun, ordered the ...

NB Public Schools task force takes on chronic absenteeism

April 19, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK – Being absent for just two days each month means a student will miss 10 percent of the entire school year – enough to negatively impact that student’s academic performance.

It’s sobering information, and a clear demonstration that chronically absent students are at a tremendous educational disadvantage, one from which many of them will never recover.

OPINION

Safe Sleep for Babies Requires Effort from All

April 10, 2018

For more than a decade, my organization, Keeping Babies Safe (KBS), has sounded the steady drumbeat of safe sleep awareness, which in turn has created bans on dangerous products and has helped enact laws that work to ensure babies are sleeping safely.

In 2018, KBS kicked off its latest awareness campaign designed to promote safe sleep practices and products ...

'Elementary, My Dear Watson!' Solving Mysteries with Genetic Geneaology

April 20, 2018

The next meeting of the New Brunswick Historical Society will be on Thursday, April 26 at 7:00 p.m. Andrew May will speak about Genetic Genealogy. Humans are 99.9% identical in their genetic makeup, yet, differences in 0.1% of our DNA has helped us answer questions about our recent and deep ancestral origins. Direct-to-consumer DNA testing provides the toolbox for solving difficult ...

Why People Should Visit Black Churches and Black People Should Welcome Them

March 29, 2018

Dear TAPInto New Brunswick,

In New Jersey, segregation is a cultural issue that demands the immediate attention of Christians. Nearly 87 percent of Christian churches in the U.S. are either made up of only white, or only African-American parishioners. When we worship in the comfortable bubble of segregation, we miss the opportunity for racial reconciliation, as mandated by Jesus:

"A ...