A reader writes, apropos of yesterday’s posting on the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and its effects (or lack of same) on downtown Newark:
I’ve walked through downtown Newark countless times now and the more I hear about Newark’s Renaissance, the less I believe it’s actually happening.
That’s not to say Newark is getting worse, but I definitely haven’t seen NJPAC have any significant impact on the downtown area. It is bleak. There are a ton of “historic” (really old) buildings that you can tell were once beautiful and now are empty, dilapidated and depressing. No one is buying them or refurbishing them or using them. They just sit there with their broken windows and moldy brick getting more broken and moldier. The businesses that do exist fall into two categories: 1) big business commuter offices (notice I say “commuter” and those buildings really only include Prudential, IDT, Robert Treat Hotel, Hilton, Seton Hall Law, etc) and 2) low-end multi-purpose stores (the likes of Valu-Plus, Lot Less, Pay/Half–and I didn’t make up any of those names; hell, our Rite Aid even closes at 6 pm most days).
What’s really sad is that, if there were just more investors, downtown could become beautiful and happening. But that takes big money. Newark, the city itself, and its small business owners–concentrated in Portugese district of the Ferry Street area–definitely don’t have the capital it will take to help Newark reach its full potential–and there’s a lot of potential to be met. But I’m glad Newark has NJPAC. I like going to performances there. Honestly, though, I’m always afraid one of these days the [Newark] Star-Ledger is going to have to report that it’s in danger of closing due to lack of patronage if more people don’t start going. I think part of it too is advertising. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything beyond a brochure’s calendar of events in little piles around campus. Is there any advertising in New York for NJPAC? Doubtful–once again due to money. Anyway, that’s my reaction.
This comes from a smart and observant student at the Newark campus of Rutgers University, by the way.