The newly modernized Loew’s Theatre in Jersey City, as depicted in this rendering, is anticipated to host around 150 events a year, in addition to several community programming events. — Courtesy: Economic Development Authority/Loew’s Theatre
By Joshua Burd
The state has awarded more than $42 million in tax credits to a plan to restore an iconic theater in Jersey City, the first approval under the new Historic Property Reinvestment Program.
The move by the Economic Development Authority, which approved the subsidy last week, is expected to result in the complete rehabilitation of the Loew’s Theatre for use as a live performance, movie and entertainment venue, according to a news release. The $42.27 million allocation by the EDA board represents 45 percent of the eligible cost under the project, which has an estimated total cost of $110 million and is a long-awaited piece of Jersey City’s effort to revive the historic Journal Square neighborhood.
“By supporting projects like the revitalization of Loew’s Theatre into vibrant community assets, we are ensuring the long-term growth of local economies while preserving the history of iconic properties within New Jersey’s neighborhoods,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “New Jersey’s rich entertainment history is one of our greatest assets and it is imperative that we continue to invest in our communities and enable them to maintain their historic structures.”
Created under the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020, the Historic Property Reinvestment Program’s main focus is historic preservation as a component of community development, aiming to draw long-term private investment to New Jersey while preserving historic properties throughout the state, the news release said. The subsidy is designed to work in conjunction with the Federal Historic Tax Credit Program to encourage and bolster long-term private investments focused on rehabilitating of existing identified historic structures throughout New Jersey, while helping to support activity in cities and downtowns.
“The long-awaited revitalization of Loew’s Theatre will be a tremendous economic driver that will lead to upholding the historic integrity of the property while offering new generations of New Jerseyans access to the performing arts,” said Tim Sullivan, the EDA’s chief executive. “Governor Murphy has prioritized equitable and inclusive economic development and the HPRP is an important tool in achieving that goal as we work to improve the quality of life for residents statewide.”
Upon completion, the newly modernized theater is anticipated to host around 150 events a year, in addition to several community programming events. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop noted that the rehabilitation work includes the building’s exterior, all public spaces, stage and support spaces, along with modifications and upgrades to the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.
Plans also call for the addition of a new three-bay loading dock at the rear of the theater and a café along the south alley, the news release said. Significant finishes at the interior and exterior will be rehabilitated or replicated where it was damaged beyond repair.
“The NJEDA’s announcement today is a testament not only to the growing value of historic redevelopment, but also to the importance of preserving arts and culture in our communities,” Fulop said. “The Loew’s Theatre has stood for nearly 100 years as a major focal point here in Hudson County, and its transformation into an entertainment hub is a pivotal point to the continuing renaissance underway in Jersey City and our efforts to revive Journal Square. We are very grateful to Governor Murphy and the NJEDA for their commitment to seeing historic properties turned into thriving cultural centers and for recognizing our efforts to restore this critical community asset.”
The EDA said all work is being reviewed by the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission, the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service. It will follow also the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Properties.
Meantime, the authority said the Historic Property Reinvestment Program is slated to begin accepting applications for designated “regular” and “transformative” projects at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1. The application round will close at 2 p.m. Monday, April 3.
“The HPRP marks the first time that New Jersey has offered support specifically designed to rehabilitate historic buildings for 21st century use while ensuring that their historic integrity remains in place, so this is a very exciting day for Historic Preservation in the state,” said Aidita Milsted, the EDA’s director of historic preservation. “We have seen a great response to this program and look forward to bringing additional projects from Community Development before the NJEDA Board in the coming months.”