September 19, 2019 | 52° F

New Brunswick breaks ground on $190 million performing arts center

The 22 story cultural center was created in conjunction with Rutgers University

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

This week, New Brunswick broke ground on a state-of-the-art performing arts center, located between the College Avenue and Douglass campuses. The new center is slated to open in 2019 and it will feature spaces for Rutgers students to appreciate and perform live theatre while becoming more immersed in the local culture.

Construction for the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC) officially broke ground this past Wednesday and was celebrated by a series of speeches from esteemed leaders of the Rutgers and New Brunswick communities. 

The new building will be located in the space which currently occupies George Street Playhouse and CrossRoads Theater.

The new center, which is set to open in the Fall of 2019, takes the collaborative efforts between the University and the New Brunswick Development Corporation (Devco), along with other affiliates, into the city’s theater district. The 22 story complex will include two theaters, three rehearsal stages and a multitude of added amenities pricing at $190 million.

Introducing the facility to a community where diversity is prosperous and people engage with theater has been a labor of love for everyone involved, said Board President of Crossroads Theater Anthony Carter.

Diversity is going to have a great impact, Carter said. The Crossroads Theater, the African American theatrical experience, blended with George Street Playhouse, The State Theater and the Princeton Ballet School will look to build on cultural variety in the community.

“The process of coming together and what we will see in 2019 will be the suits of many people’s labor, it has been an arduous task but you can’t help but be excited about it because it is what it should be now,” he said.

The new building highlights lessons from the past and the journey that has led to this point," Carter said. NBPAC will take the community to a place where they can imagine greater experiences in art and culture.

Communication throughout the project has been well received, Carter said. The organization opened their door to conversation, pleading their case to stakeholders and emphasizing the importance the company has in this project.

“We hope there comes a time when people have to stop explaining that but it’s always an opportunity to tell people and showcase to people the beauty of what we live in now and who we are,” he said.

Chris Paladino, the president of Devco, along with his staff have welcomed members of the organization, individually and collectively, to speak on behalf of their vision for the new facility, Carter said.

“I’m excited because I know the history of Crossroads and it’s one with this remarkable legacy of two pioneers in their field who took a gamble, who took a risk, and said 'we're going to building something,' that at the time was burgeoning and didn’t have good following,” he said.

African American theaters have lost budget, Carter said. Many of them have closed or lost audiences, having Crossroads cemented in the project has given them the footing necessary to continue growing.

“We couldn’t be more blessed,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the building, University President Robert L. Barchi said that he was enthusiastic to be a part of the best urban development project in the state.

The city is going to benefit greatly from culture, economic development and growth in job opportunities available through this projects, Barchi said.

Rutgers has to train the workforce of the future, he said. Not only in the cultural areas but those who work for the corporations that are drawn to the city as a result of the economic development taking place.

“New Brunswick right now is probably the premier city with regard to urban economic development in the state and probably even in the country,” he said.

The goal here is to have an integrated collaboration between students, the artists that visit the city and the people who work at the cultural centers, Barchi said.

“It gives people an opportunity to see so many different aspects of our culture,” he said. “You have diversity in terms of the types of performance open to people and you have world-class actors and creative people attracted to this project because of its magnitude.”

Barchi said the Rutgers cheerleaders and dance team are among a few of the University organizations included in this project. He said it is going to be great for students as they get the opportunity to take part in a positive cultural experience.

“(Students) can be excited about being part of a cultural project the will enhance the time they spend at Rutgers because they’ll be able to partake in so many diverse things in terms of the art and culture of the city,” he said.

Christian Zapata

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