The City of Hoboken plans to explore the feasibility of constructing a regional performing arts center near Hoboken Terminal. In a press release announcing the initiative, Mayor Dawn Zimmer noted Hoboken’s strength as a hub for mass transit, and the city’s growing commitment to the arts:
“With almost unparalleled access to mass transit, southeast Hoboken could be the ideal place for a regional performing arts center for music, theater, dance, and more,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “Along with the resurgence of the Monroe Arts Center, the preservation of Neumann Leathers through a proposed Rehabilitation Plan, and the construction of Mile Square Theatre’s new facility next to the Viaduct, the Hoboken community is demonstrating its commitment to artists and the arts.”
Hoboken has the highest rate of transit ridership in the nation at 56%, and its character as a transit city is defined by the landmarked transit hub that anchors its southwest waterfront. Hoboken Terminal houses five modes of transit – New Jersey Transit regional rail, buses, and Hudson-Bergen light rail, PATH subway, and NY Waterway ferry service – which make it an ideal neighbor for a performing arts center that would serve as a cultural destination for the region.
The city’s success in hosting outdoor cultural and performing arts events points to a bright future for a potential indoor venue. Pier A park, which is also adjacent to Hoboken Terminal, has hosted a number of events in recent years, including popular concerts by Bob Dylan, Mumford & Sons, My Morning Jacket, and Wilco; the Lackawanna Music Festival, now in its fourth year; and Movies Under the Stars, a series of free, outdoor movie screenings held on Wednesdays from June-August. In 2014, the park also hosted the Hoboken Huddle, a weeklong event held in conjunction with Super Bowl 48 at nearby MetLife Stadium.
A large-scale performing arts venue located in close proximity to one of the largest and most important transit hubs in the region could raise Hoboken’s profile as an arts and cultural hub, making the city a year-round destination for events, and providing space for existing arts organizations to build their audiences by hosting larger events. It would also help keep the economic benefits of arts and cultural events in Hudson County.
Both the Hudson County Master Plan, and the Hoboken Terminal and Yards redevelopment plan, which was approved 8-1 by the City Council in December, call for the development of a performing arts center. The city’s redevelopment plan allots 23,000 square feet for an indoor, multi-use public space, which would make it the largest performing arts center in Hoboken. The city plans to gauge community support and economic feasibility before making a decision on how to move forward:
If the idea has community support and is deemed to be economically feasible, the City will include the construction of the center in the negotiation of the Redevelopment Agreement with the designated redeveloper of the property owned by New Jersey Transit.