NJPAC President Takes Leadership Role at Theater Square Development

New Jersey Performing Arts Center President and CEO John Schreiber has taken on a new role by becoming president and CEO of Theater Square Development Company LLC, which has a project to construct residential units across the street from NJPAC. Schreiber told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he’s excited by the new project and his work at NJPAC.

The Theater Square project, which is highly anticipated in Newark, was recently awarded $33 million in state tax credits. Schreiber is succeeding Larry Goldman in the new role, which he also did at NJPAC. But Schreiber said Goldman hasn’t gone far. “He’s still a senior consultant to our real estate subsidiary and he’s also now a distinguished practitioner at Rutgers-Newark and he’s gonna be teaching graduate students about the urban arts universe,” Schreiber explained.

Theater Square is going to be a 21-story residential tower directly opposite NJPAC with 244 rental units, according to Schreiber. He anticipates breaking ground in six to nine months. “It’s a long time coming but it’s going to be market rate residential in downtown Newark,” he said.

When NJPAC first came to be, the founders bought the real estate around the arts center. Schreiber said there are three sites suitable for development adjacent to the NJPAC building. Theater Square is the first to be developed. “So we now hopefully can declare victory here and getting this building built we’ll have an opportunity to come up with other ideas for the other two sites,” he said.

While Schreiber said it’s too soon to know if NJPAC will decide to create more apartments, entertainment venues or retail, he hopes that whatever comes about will be revenue producing and help drive the center’s mission.

“We’re the largest provider of arts learning services, non-profit in the state. We serve about 60,000 kids a year so that’s a way for us to help the next generation. The hope is that we can make some money and enhance the lives of some kids. That’s the thought,” Schreiber said.

According to Schreiber, 2013 has been a year of growth in performances at NJPAC with 30 percent more shows than last year. He also cites a diversity in NJPAC’s audience. “There are probably 15 different nationalities and ethnicities that make up northern and central New Jersey and our job is to program to as many people as we can so I think we’re doing that more effectively than we’ve ever done,” he said.

Schreiber said certain performances sell “through the roof” while others are a tough sell. A wildly popular performance included Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon in a benefit for the Montclair Film Festival, which sold out. He said unique shows are often very popular. On the other hand, jazz can be a tough sell. He said NJPAC is the largest curator of jazz in the state.

“One of our jobs at the arts center is to promote art forms that aren’t obviously commercial,” Schreiber said.