A rendering of One Theater Square in Newark – Courtesy: New Jersey Performing Arts Center
By Joshua Burd
More than a decade after the idea was first proposed, the long-stalled plans for an upscale residential high-rise near the New Jersey Performing Arts Center appear to be back on track in Newark.
In a news release Thursday, stakeholders said the $116 million project dubbed One Theater Square is moving ahead after “complex financial arrangements and real estate closings” were completed last week. That has allowed NJPAC and developer Dranoff Properties Inc. to start construction at the 1.2-acre site across from the arts center and Military Park.
The 22-story project would be Newark’s first ground-up, upscale residential high-rise since 1960, the news release said. All told, it would include 245 apartments and 12,000 square feet of street-level retail, with 24 affordable housing units that will be marketed as artist residences but available to anyone who meets the financial criteria.
Financing partners for the project include the city of Newark, the state of New Jersey, Prudential Financial, Fifth Third Bank, the Philadelphia-based developer and NJPAC.
John Schreiber, CEO and president of the performing arts center, said One Theater Square “will be the hub of a neighborhood that has grown up around NJPAC” when it opens in summer 2018. He pointed to nearby projects such as the redevelopment of the historic Hahne & Co. department store and the Whole Foods that will soon open inside the mixed-use building.
“One Theater Square embodies a vision of downtown Newark more than a quarter century in the making,” Schreiber said in a prepared statement. “We are celebrating the result of the visionary work of NJPAC founders Gov. Thomas Kean, philanthropist Ray Chambers, its first CEO Larry Goldman and the state of New Jersey and the city of Newark, which have been steadfast in their support of the project through multiple administrations.
“This is a transformative moment in a great city’s advance toward an even greater future.”
Plans for the site have changed since the project was first pitched in 2005 by Lawrence Goldman, founding CEO and president of NJPAC. Construction for what was once envisioned as a 44-story tower has stalled amid the economic downturn that followed soon after and questions over whether there was demand for such a product in Newark.
In 2013, One Theater Square had been scaled down and approved for a $33 million tax credit by the state Economic Development Authority. A groundbreaking that was to occur in 2014 never came to pass, but NJPAC says that construction workers are now on site.
“This is a bulls-eye location in a rising city. With NJPAC literally at its doorstep, One Theater Square will redefine what’s meant by ‘home entertainment,’ ” said Carl E. Dranoff, founder and CEO of Dranoff Properties. “This is to be a complete live-work-shop-and-play community, just as Dranoff Properties has helped create in other areas of the country.”
Thursday’s announcement came with well wishes and congratulations from other stakeholders:
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka
- “One Theater Square is an important step forward for Newark. The pace of change downtown continues to accelerate as our central business district becomes more of a residential, artistic, and retail hub in addition to its strength as a regional business center. I congratulate John Schreiber and the NJPAC Board for their leadership and vision in that transformation.”
Tim Lizura, president and chief operating officer of the state EDA
- “One Theater Square will be a terrific encore to NJPAC. We are pleased to have played a supporting role in its development.”
John Strangfeld, chair of the NJPAC board of directors and chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial Inc.
- “We are delighted to complete this important step toward the development of One Theater Square. These additional high-quality housing options complement other residential and commercial development projects under way, which are boosting the vitality of the entire city. When completed, this project will mark another important milestone in the city’s development, while bolstering the strength and presence of NJPAC and the thriving retail, entertainment and business community in Newark’s downtown.”