A rendering of the planned Guarini Performing Arts Center, part of New Jersey City University’s growing west campus in Jersey City — Courtesy: NJCU
By Joshua Burd
A new $10 million gift to New Jersey City University — the largest in the school’s history — is providing a major boost to a plan to build a new performing arts center in Jersey City.
The university on Thursday announced the gift from former U.S. Rep. Frank J. Guarini, a Jersey City native who is also a well-known philanthropist and developer. The gift will result in the creation of the Frank J. Guarini Institute for International Studies and the Guarini Performing Arts Center, a 25,437-square-foot project that will be the centerpiece of an ongoing redevelopment of the city’s west side.
“For decades Frank Guarini has demonstrated his support of New Jersey City University and now, more than ever, is critical to the continued bright future of our community,” NJCU President Sue Henderson said. “On behalf of our students, their families and the generations of graduates to come, I want to thank Frank for his incredible generosity and investment in our vision and mission to empower all that call upon us.
“Both of these projects will significantly impact our County to create jobs, provide housing and foster Jersey City’s growth as a world class city to usher in a new era for our students and communities.”
In a news release, Henderson cited Guarini’s ongoing support of Hudson County’s students through various gifts and initiatives through the years. The arts center, part of the school’s growing west campus, will feature a 492-seat theater, a 100-seat recital hall, two large dance studios for both rehearsal and performances, performers’ dressing rooms, a scenery fabrication shop and storage, grand lobby and special event space.
The plan, which has spawned a partnership between NJCU and the Joffrey Ballet School, will anchor a development that also includes new market-rate apartments and retail space. The project took a major step forward last week after receiving approval from the Jersey City planning board, according to Murphy Schiller & Wilkes LLP, which is representing the development team.
Meantime, the Guarini Institute will focus on three key areas, including research that explores the interconnections between the global future of work and higher education, the news release said. That focus will also include the preparation of students through abroad experiences and global work opportunities for the global future of work and creation of international partnerships with institutions of higher education, businesses and organizations that foster and advance the global nature of work.
“NJCU has been a powerful advocate and important cornerstone of our community for almost 100 years,” Guarini said. “Dr. Henderson has brought a vision and vitality to this great institution and built an incredible team whose dedication to the needs of our students is impressive and inspiring. It has been an honor to witness their transformation under her leadership and I am proud to support these far reaching, impactful projects.”