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NEWARK, NJ-The New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Philadelphia-based Dranoff Properties signed a letter of intent for development of a residential and retail complex on a vacant 1.2-acre site opposite the arts center’s main entrance. The plan calls for 250 residences in low-, mid- and high-rise settings, with 20% of the units set aside for artists. Also part of the plan are a 30,000-sf retail component at street level, and a 750-car parking structure to be utilized by residents, Njpac event attendees and daytime commercial demand.

Njpac officials initially rolled out plans in mid-2005 for the center’s first major expansion since it opened in 1997. In early 2006, the organization issued a Request for Expressions of Interest to begin the process of securing a developer. Estimates at the time put the price tag for the project in the $100-112 million range.

“This agreement is the culmination of a very deliberate developer selection process,” says Lawrence Goldman, Njpac’s president and CEO. “Dranoff is a recognized trendsetter in the revitalization of urban neighborhoods. We knew very quickly that they understood the arts center’s mission to build on its success and create round-the-clock living in downtown Newark.”

“Two Center Street is a project that draws on our mixed-use experience in developing arts and cultural districts,” says Carl Dranoff, founder and CEO. His company’s credits include Symphony House in its hometown of Philadelphia, and the Victor, the redevelopment of the former RCA headquarters on the Camden, NJ waterfront as a luxury condo building.

“This is very good news for Njpac, the City of Newark and the region,” says Mayor Cory Booker in a statement. “Njpac is a centerpiece of the downtown revival of the state’s largest city. An active 24/7 neighborhood will begin to infuse the kind of energy and spirit that must spread throughout the entire downtown.”

Officials also revealed today that financial support for some of the pre-development activities is coming from the Bank of America, the MCJ Foundation and the City of Newark via an urban enterprise zone loan. Further details were not disclosed.

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