The much-anticipated, $172 million New Brunswick Performing Arts Center – two years in the making – is finally opening its doors to the public on Wednesday afternoon during an invitation-only reception at 6 p.m.
On Thursday, local and NBPAC officials will hold an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. followed by the start of a 10-day production of “Paul Robeson” at the Crossroads Theatre Co.’s new facilities.
City and state officials broke ground on NBPAC’s construction in 2017. The NBPAC will be home to the George Street Playhouse and Crossroads Theater, the American Repertory Ballet and several facilities from the Mason Gross School of the Arts, towering 22 stories over the New Brunswick area – 18 of which are luxury apartments.
New Brunswick Development Corp. President Chris Paladino said he hopes this is the final residence for the two theaters, both longtime arts centerpieces in the city, as well as the American Repertory Ballet.
“The George Street Playhouse, this will be their third home in New Brunswick. They started out in a grocery store on George Street, they retrofitted the YMCA, this, we hope, will be the third and last time in New Brunswick,” Paladino said.
Crossroads, according to Paladino, jumped across the city several times over the past decades before finally arriving at the NBPAC.
NBPAC is a public-private partnership between DEVCO, the New Brunswick Parking Authority, Rutgers University, Middlesex County, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Pennrose Properties, several of whom provided large chunks of the project’s funding.
“We’re expecting an additional $25 million economic impact annually,” Paladino said. “ From parking to hotel rooms to restaurants to ticket sales.”
The county will run the newly formed Arts Institute of Middlesex County, an office within the NBPAC, to centralize arts and culture projects and events from the county’s roughly 800,000 residents.
Pennrose will rent out 207 units on the 18 floors above the offices and theater space. Twenty percent of the apartments are set aside for affordable housing. Pennrose Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Barnhart said they are shooting for tenants to move in by the end of September, though the priority was the completion of the two theaters.
“We’re really pushing hard just to get the theaters complete,” Barnhart told NJBIZ. “When somebody says two years ago there’s a performance on Sept. 5, you’ve got to stick with that.”