Jersey City Moves Toward $72 Million Renovation of Historic Loew’s Theater

11
Loew's Jersey Theatre Journal Square Jersey City 2
The renovation of the historic Loew’s Jersey Theatre in Journal Square is finally moving forward. Rendering courtesy the City of Jersey City.

An unpolished landmark that has stood in Journal Square for almost a century is on its way to a deal with a major operator that will revitalize the facility into a 3,330-seat performing arts center.


The Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) approved a resolution during their February 22 meeting that designated Devils Arena Entertainment conditional redeveloper for the Loew’s Jersey Theatre. A Request for Proposals issued last year was hoping to secure a $40 million renovation of the facility that would be split between the city and the potential operator.

Loew's Jersey Theatre Journal Square Jersey City 4
Devils Arena Entertainment is the conditional redeveloper for the Loew’s Jersey Theatre, Journal Square. Rendering courtesy the City of Jersey City.

The deal, revealed by Mayor Steve Fulop on Twitter before the JCRA’s meeting, is substantially better than those expectations. $72 million will be spent to transform the theatre into a state-of-the-art performance venue that will look to attract both superstar and up-and-coming performing artists.

“The Loew’s restoration is decades in the making, and I am encouraged and excited to partner with Devils Arena Entertainment, a reputable entertainment company and operator of the globally successful Prudential Center, as we take this monumental step forward in our commitment to restoring Loew’s Theatre to its former glory, reviving Journal Square, and growing our arts community,” said Mayor Fulop in a released statement. “This one-of-a-kind partnership signifies our long-term planning for a post-pandemic future where we’re confident arts and culture will be a staple of life.”

The old-school movie palace was one of five “Wonder Theaters” built in the tri-state area during the late 1920s by the Loew’s Corporation, then owners of MGM Studios. The Baroque-style theatre in Journal Square cost $2 million to build at the time and much of the craftsmanship was on full display during an interior tour Jersey Digs was given back in 2016.

Loew's Jersey Theatre Journal Square Jersey City 3
Future programming will include major concerts as well as local events. Rendering courtesy the City of Jersey City.

Loew’s sadly closed the theater in 1986 and sold it to developer Hartz Mountain the following year. The company wished to demolish and redevelop the land in 1993, but Jersey City bought the theater and signed a lease agreement with Friends of the Loew’s (FOTL) to save the property from the wrecking ball.

A legal spat between the city and FOTL over a lease ended when the revitalization was announced last year, but the current theater still isn’t up to code and has 1,000 non-usable seats. Millions will be spent addressing those issues plus historic preservation of a stage lighting control board, pop-up microphones, and orchestra and organ lifts.

Upgrades slated for the theater include state-of-the-art visual and acoustic upgrades, revamped concessions and ticketing areas, reimagined ingress and egress points to meet ADA requirements and expand audience capacity, and major infrastructure improvements including HVAC, plumbing, and electrical upgrades.

Loew's Jersey Theatre Journal Square Jersey City 1
The renovation is slated to begin in 2022 and the grand reopening is expected in 2025. Rendering courtesy the City of Jersey City.

“The Loew’s Jersey Theatre is an iconic community treasure that has played a long, distinguished role as Jersey City’s premier arts and entertainment venue,” said Hugh Weber, President of Devils Arena Entertainment. “We envision Loew’s Jersey Theatre as a catalyst to help the citizens of Northern Jersey get back, literally, on their feet to celebrate world-class arts and music.”

The rehabilitation and operation agreement requires Devils Arena Entertainment to work closely with Jersey City and Friends of the Loew’s on programming once the facility reopens. The deal allows the company to book at least 20 musical performances annually by nationally recognized artists, but also requires space for ten theatrical or stage performances, ten comedy shows, and an unspecified number of FOTL-sponsored events to balance the theater’s content.

The agreement with Devils Arena Entertainment ensures priority to local minority and woman-owned firms looking to work on the project. The city says construction at the Loew’s is expected to begin in 2022, with the facility’s anticipated opening in 2025.

--

Have something to add to this story? Email [email protected].

Click here to sign up for Jersey Digs' free emails and news alerts. Stay up-to-date by following Jersey Digs on Twitter and Instagram, and liking us on Facebook.

No posts to display

11 COMMENTS

  1. Absolutely fantastic theatre but that’s a long wait until it opens. 2025.

    This: Upgrades include “expanding audience capacity” is code for make seats as small as possible to jam in as many asses as we can. Because you know this shit is going cost top dollar, every time, every show.

  2. It’s a beautiful place, love seeing movies there. The new marquee is ugly. What’s up with glass boxes adjacent to the theater in the renders?

  3. The RFP for commercial management at the Loew’s that Mayor Fulop announced last year guaranteed what the City and FOL had worked hard for over a year to understand as being necessary for FOL to continue as the non-profit arm of the Loew’s, even with the much hoped for expanded operations. Now JCRA is giving FOL an active role in negotiating the detailed redevelopment agreement with DAE that will reflect this. And this will allow Mayor Fulop, JCRA, FOL and DAE to pull off something pretty rare: a first class venue for major commercial concerts that’s ALSO a place where there’s diverse and affordable programming, local arts, community events and more.

    There’ll be more than 50 events presented or produced by FOL every year. Our signature film programming will continue. Volunteerism will still be an important part of the life of the Loew’s. And FOL will be involved in planning and overseeing all the upcoming restoration work, and be in a position to ensure the best ongoing preservation work.

    So it’s ALL GOOD – literally – looking to the future of the Loew’s. (By the way, the reason it will likely take so long to complete all the work is that the restoration of such a complex and important landmark takes lots of thorough planning, and then has to be carried out with great care and attention to detail.)

  4. Looking forward to the renovation of this beautiful architectural treasure. As a long time resident I had my first date there in 1967, and enjoyed many movies, have wonderful memories and spent many hours there too young to realize the splendor of our surroundings. Several years ago, attended a wedding with the bridge coming down the stairs, it was breathtaking. I give kudos to the FOL who have been avid supporters of the Lowes and Mayor Fulop and many JC residents who had the foresight to save this landmark. Thank you.

  5. Jacqueline….poor Jacqueline. So outraged that you have to vent your frustration on a message board that has nothing to do with anything you just wrote about. I hope you find what you’re looking for in this life.

  6. Is this a tax credit project ? When I worked for Clear Channel Entertainment all of restoration projects were partially funded by the credits (CCE could use the credits but they can also be sold for %. Restoration architect with a preservation consultant is a must as even simple installation types can be tax credit eligible or not i.e. carpet must be permanently affixed to the floor to count. It is a beautiful house to restore. We did this at The Boston Opera House and Baltimore Hippodrome it is a great ride. I’ll will follow your journey!

  7. I hope with Mayor Fulops leadership that Journal Square will be succcessfully revitalized and prevent the local the local from ever destroying the area ever again !

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here