Big things are on the horizon for New Brunswick’s Arts District, as Crossroads Theatre Company’s final show for the season will also mark the beginning of a new era of arts and culture in our community.
Crossroads Theatre Company’s “Sarah Sings a Love Story” will be presented at Crossroads Theatre from March 9 through March 26. Soon after the close of this show, demolition will begin on the Crossroads Theatre building, the first step in the redevelopment of the New Brunswick Cultural Center.
Spearheaded by the City of New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), this 450,000 sq. foot project includes the development of two state-of-the-art theater spaces, a mixed-use tower containing office and residential space and a new parking facility.
Visitors to this new center will enjoy performances on two new stages, one suited for smaller, intimate shows and the other to host larger productions of plays and musicals.
A 25-floor tower will rise above the theaters, 21 floors of which will contain 250 modern market rate and affordable apartment units. A partnership with the Actors Fund of America has been forged with discussions of making units available for visual and performing artists to reside in some of the on-site units.
A 400-spot parking garage on the site of the former Cultural Center parking lot on Bayard Street will round out amenities for theatergoers and tenants.
This modern and expanded facility will be home to George Street Playhouse, American Repertory Ballet, Crossroads Theatre Company and the offices of the New Brunswick Cultural Center.
The expanded structures will allow 100 additional performances per year beyond the current offerings, resulting in an anticipated additional 39,000 patron visits.
“The New Brunswick Cultural Center Redevelopment Initiative will transform our existing theater district into a place where the arts may further grow and flourish,” said Mayor Jim Cahill. “We are also working with Middlesex County and the Mason Gross School of the Arts to see what other opportunities this development might present, all ensuring a modern space for our talented artist community to create and share their craft with the world.”
During renovations, Crossroads Theatre Company will bring its performances to locations throughout central New Jersey through its “Crossroads on the Road” program.
“Crossroads Theatre Company has been in New Brunswick for nearly 40 years, and we look forward to remaining an important part of the New Brunswick arts community for many years to come,” said Marshall Jones III, Producing Artistic Director for Crossroads Theatre Company. “I’m optimistic that this will be a great opportunity for us along with our partner arts organizations in the city to continue doing what we do best in a new arts center that meets the needs of our audiences and artists.”
American Repertory Ballet has relocated its offices and studio space to 80 Albany Street for the duration of the project.
“American Repertory Ballet has long been committed to the New Brunswick community. With the exciting fruition of the long awaited arts center, we will finally have a true home as New Brunswick’s resident ballet company,” said Charles Metcalf, Chair of the American Repertory Ballet Board of Trustees. “The new facility will also permit us to expand the New Brunswick presence of Princeton Ballet School, and better serve our acclaimed DANCE POWER program as it enters its 32nd year in New Brunswick.”
George Street Playhouse will host performances and programs in an alternate space within the City. The Playhouse will release more information on their coming performance locations later this year.
“This has been my dream for 20 years! I am so grateful to Mayor Cahill, Chris Paladino, DEVCO, the Middlesex County Freeholders, and all involved in realizing this extraordinary new arts center,” said David Saint, Artistic Director of George Street Playhouse. “Personally, it is thrilling to finally offer our world-class artists who come to GSP a world-class facility in which to appear.”
State Theatre will continue to host performances and programming in its existing location. The adjoining Stage Left, Catherine Lombardi and Mason Gross School of the Arts buildings are not included in the construction and will remain open throughout the project.
“This is exciting news for the community, the county, and for the state of New Jersey,” said Tom Carto, State Theatre New Jersey’s President and CEO. “The arts have always played a vital role in New Brunswick and now with more top notch performing arts facilities, office space, and urban housing, New Brunswick will cement its reputation as a true destination in Central New Jersey.”
The City of New Brunswick’s investment in this $215 million project has been bolstered by a $6 million commitment on behalf of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Other financial partners in this public/private project include DEVCO, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, New Brunswick Cultural Center, Rutgers University, Pennrose and the New Brunswick Parking Authority.
The State’s Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant Program has also committed millions in financing through a bill that was championed in Trenton by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. Local legislative support was provided by Senator Bob Smith, Assemblyman Joseph Egan and Assemblyman Joe Danielsen.
Completion of the project is projected for 2019.