Newark Museum of Art unveils $85M project that includes 2 apartment buildings, retail space

Published: Nov. 05, 2021

The Newark Museum of Art has big plans for its own backyard.

The museum announced Friday it has joined with L + M Development Partners and KSS Architects to build 250 apartment units plus a gallery and retail space on its property at the corner of Washington Street, Central, and University avenues.

Dubbed Museum Parc, the $85 million project calls for construction of two apartment buildings - a six story structure with 90 units and an art gallery on the first floor, to be followed by a 12-story high-rise with 2,400 square-feet of retail space on the ground. There’s also plans for a new restaurant and souvenir shop inside the museum, and a redesigned sculpture garden on the grounds outside.

The museum’s bold venture into real estate development is the latest arts-driven investment in Newark’s downtown revival. Newark Museum of Art Director Linda C. Harrison said the city was in the midst of a transformation, with the arts leading the way.

“We’re all trying to create a cultural district where people will want to live and want to stay,” she said. “Maybe they’ll visit and say, ‘I want to live here.’ Everyone wins with a vibrant cultural district.”

Harrison said 50 of the residential units will be set aside as affordable housing. When complete in 2024, the buildings will create a revenue stream for the museum to carry it forward.

“My goal is for us to be a cultural district that serves the community,” she said. “We want more people walking and more people living in the area. And of course, there’s the economic impact. This is good for businesses in the district.”

And ultimately, it should mean more people visiting the Newark Museum of Art, which is the largest in the state. Harrison said about 200,000 people visit the museum each year, but she’d love to see that number grow to 300,000 or more.

“Stay longer and come back,” she said, summing up the goal of the project.

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka applauded the initiative, a major investment that comes at a time when many cultural institutions are struggling due to the pandemic.

“As a cultural anchor in the city for over 100 years, I am proud to see the museum deepen its investment in Newark and further raise the profile as an art and cultural destination where people can live and experience world-class art,” Baraka said in statement. “This proposed project demonstrates the museum’s commitment to growing their footprint, notable at a time when cultural institutions are scaling back due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Established in 1909, the Newark Museum is one of the oldest cultural institutions in the city. Change, most of it driven by the arts, entertainment and education sectors, has happened all around it, more or less beginning with the arrival of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in 1997.

Harrison said the museum has linked with L + M Development Partners and KSS Architects, two firms with proven track records that have been major players in the arts revival in downtown Newark and elsewhere. “They are social citizens,” she said, that aim to build community along with the bricks and mortar.

In Newark, firms have worked together on a number of big projects, most notably the Express Newark Community Arts Center, a 50,000 square-foot space at the repurposed Hahne & Company building on Broad Street. KSS designed the Grammy Museum at the Prudential Center and the Great Hall arts space at 15 Washington Street that was carved out of the old American Insurance building, which is owned by Rutgers University.

KSS has designed numerous buildings on college campuses around the state. One of its projects is the Edelman Fossil Park Museum, which broke ground at Rowan University last month. Another is the Biomedical Engineering building at Rutgers in Piscataway.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-11-08 03:35:35 -0800