A dream come true

Groundbreaking for One Theater Square begins a new stage for NJPAC.


Years of tenacity and teamwork prevailed on November 14 when a line of Newark progressives dug gleaming shovels into the bedrock of what will become NJPAC’s One Theater Square. Jubilation mixed with nostalgia as advocates for the $116 million luxury high-rise witnessed the long-awaited culmination of a plan vital to the revitalization of the city.


Despite often daunting bumps and delays during its time on the drawing boards, One Theater Square, the result of a successful public-private partnership, is scheduled to open for occupancy in 2018. The 22-story edifice, composed of 245 apartments, including 24 affordable units, will offer views of Manhattan, the hills of North Jersey and verdant Military Park.


The project represents Newark’s first ground-upward residential tower since 1960, according to the developer, Dranoff Properties, Inc. of Philadelphia.


To the festive tune of bells chiming from a nearby church, NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber welcomed a dais packed with One Theater Square “indispensables,” thanking them for “a great day in Newark.”


“From the day that this transformational project was announced almost 10 years ago, to our financial closing six weeks ago, every single time it seemed as if the environment or the timing for One Theater Square wasn’t right, one of you, or some combination of you, made it possible for us to live to fight another day,” he said.


“Today is a remarkable story of resilience, faith, creativity and collaboration,” Schreiber continued. “By making this deal happen, you make possible the next historic chapter in the forward motion of this city we love.”


The ceremony was held under sunny ice-blue skies and a light breeze ruffled the unseasonably warm autumn morning. Builder Carl E. Dranoff and NJPAC Founding President and CEO Lawrence P. Goldman, who shared NJPAC’s Prudential Hall stage six years ago when the blueprints were first unveiled, joined such dignitaries as former Gov. Thomas H. Kean; New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno; Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka; Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. (D-10th Dist.); Essex County Executive Joseph DiVencenzo Jr.; Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex); and State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex).


Representing the Newark City Council were Augusto Amador, Carlos M. Gonzalez, Joe McCallum and Luis A. Quintana.


Kean, who is a member of the “Mount Rushmore” of NJPAC founding fathers (the others being philanthropist Raymond G. Chambers, former Newark Mayor Sharpe James and Goldman), enthused, “What a wonderful day in every way. We were talking about this back in the ‘80s.” He was referring to stakeholders in attendance who first advanced the vision for One Theater Square – known in its infancy as Two Center Street.


Financial backers included the City of Newark; the State of New Jersey ($33 million in Urban Transit Hub Tax Credits); Prudential Financial; Fifth Third Bank; Joseph Neubauer and Spring Creek Investment Management; NJPAC, whose subsidiary is Theater Square Development Company, LLC; and the developer.


“One Theater Square was supported by eight governors, three mayors, five NJPAC Board Chairs and two NJPAC CEOs. This reflects an amazing continuity of values,” said Goldman. “John’s excellent leadership in getting across the finish line shows an affirmation of mission and legacy, and confirms NJPAC’s destiny on the leading edge of urban transformation.”


The future live-work-play structure will be situated on a 1.2-acre parcel described by Dranoff as “a bullseye location” opposite NJPAC and will encompass 12,000 square feet of street-level retail and a parking garage. Other amenities will include a fitness center, meeting spaces and an outdoor deck equipped with fire pits and flat screens. The site is positioned minutes away from major transit circuits and Newark Liberty International Airport.


For more about One Theater Square, click to NJTV’s report here or Real Estate NJ’s account here.


Nov. 17, 2016