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
Longtime developer Robert M. Kaye has gifted $1 million to New Jersey City University, providing additional support for the school’s planned performing arts complex in Jersey City.
NJCU President Sue Henderson said Monday that the contribution, among the largest in the university’s history, is the second lead gift in its $10 million campaign to develop a destination for music, dance and theater on the city’s west side. Part of the $400 million, mixed-use University Place project, the 25,437-square-foot complex will include a performing arts center that is anchored by a 492-seat theater and a 100-seat recital hall.
The school will dedicate the latter as the Robert M. Kaye Recital Hall in recognition of the gift.
“It is my great honor to make this gift to New Jersey City University,” said Kaye, the founder, chairman and CEO of the PRC Group of Companies in Red Bank. “As a supporter of the arts, I look forward to the opening of the Center for Music, Dance and Theater and its performing arts center and how it will further revitalize Jersey City’s West Side.”
The donation comes as PRC develops two residential buildings at University Place, a 20-acre project in which NJCU is working with private-sector builders to grow its campus in Jersey City. PRC’s projects include a recently opened, 144-unit project, which it built in partnership with Circle Squared Alternative Investments.
Last May, NJCU received the largest gift in its history when former congressman Frank J. Guarini pledged $10 million to the school. The gift is also supporting the arts project, prompting the university to dedicate the Guarini Performing Arts Center in his honor.
In announcing the latest gift, NJCU noted that Kaye began his career in 1960 as a property manager and gradually grew his young company into one of the most diversified and active firms in the region. A graduate of the University of Connecticut, he is a licensed real estate broker and a certified property manager.
Kaye also currently chairs legislative committees for community reinvestment as well as several philanthropic organizations.
“I am so grateful to Bob Kaye for his thoughtful gift in support of our Performing Arts Center,” Henderson said. “The naming of the recital hall in his honor is so fitting and is a testament to his life’s work and his remarkable generosity. In many ways, his life’s work is emblematic of our entire university community. He started from very modest means, developing one building at a time, and in time, created an amazing company. The arts later became a passion in his life. He is an inspiration to us all and his commitment to our university, our students and the future of our performing arts program is significant and graciously appreciated.”
Plans for the center have already led to a partnership between NJCU and the world-renowned Joffrey Ballet School, which will move its operations from New York City to NJCU and, in partnership with the university, will offer a bachelor of fine arts in dance and a Joffrey certificate. Upon completion, the Guarini Performing Arts Center will also include an orchestra pit and fly stage, two large dance studios for both rehearsal and performances with exterior glass walls looking out to a large public plaza, performers’ dressing rooms, scenery fabrication shop and storage, grand lobby and special event space.