Close to a year and a half after it was revealed that the site of Newark’s 31 Central art studios would be redeveloped into a mixed-use complex, the end is around the corner for this neighborhood institution.
While drivers and pedestrians passing by on Halsey Street or Central Avenue might never have been able to tell from the exterior, for decades, local artists had worked in the studios that made up the second floor of the two-story building at 31-39 Central Avenue in the city’s downtown. This hidden cultural center was used by artistic Newarkers such as Jerry Gant, who passed away at the end of 2018.
“This is like an organic academy,” Gant told Jersey Digs in 2017. “We have contributed to the enrichment of the whole city, not just the downtown district.”
While 31 Central might have been tucked away all these years, there were opportunities for other community members to take a look at the artists’ work, including at a show at Rutgers-Newark’s Paul Robeson Galleries in 2016 and during the annual Open Doors tours.
Now, there will be one final chance for the public to see the interior of 31 Central before the studios are no more. The “Last Set” party will be held inside this Friday, January 25, from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., according to a Facebook listing.
“We would like to share the atmosphere of this unique Newark art environment with the wider audience before it completely disappears,” the listing states.
The building that contains 31 Central will be entirely demolished in order to make way for the upcoming development. Back in June 2018, artists working in the space received a letter from Michael Baldino of Cushman & Wakefield that “plans have progressed for the redevelopment of the building” and that “demolition of the building is planned to start no later than December 31, 2018.” The Facebook event listing mentions that the building is now expected to be torn down in the coming weeks.
The upcoming 10-story project at the site is expected to consist of 11,630 square feet of retail space on the ground floor along with 10,711 square feet of commercial space, according to city records. The building’s basement will include 41 parking spots while 71 units will make up the upper floors of the development. Inglese Architecture + Engineering is listed in city paperwork as the project architect.
Few other details are known about the proposal aside from what Jersey Digs has reported previously. While the project is being developed by L+M Development Partners, it appears that Newark-based Prudential Financial had some involvement in the development. The company that owns 31 Central, Cottage Street Orbit Acquisition, LLC of Tempe, Arizona, is listed in filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission as being a subsidiary of Prudential.
L+M has become one of the major players in Newark real estate over the last five years, but this project is not listed on the Larchmont, New York-based company’s website and there has been barely any publicity regarding it. The development firm, which has been involved in projects such as Hahne & Co., 155 Washington Street, and the Walker House project in the old New Jersey Bell Headquarters Building, is also the owner of complexes such as Georgia King Village and Zion Towers.
Calls seeking comment from L+M for this story were not returned.