NJCU launches $10M fundraising campaign for Guarini arts center

A rendering of the planned performing arts center at New Jersey City University.

New Jersey City University on Wednesday kicked off a fundraising initiative for the Caroline and Frank Guarini Sr. Performing Arts Center.

The campaign will build upon Guarini’s historic $10 million donation ⁠— $5 million of which served as the lead gift for the PAC.

“I am so proud to launch this campaign to raise the necessary funds to complete this game changing project for the benefit of our vibrant community. Frank’s generous and transformative $10 million gift, the largest in the university’s history, provides us with the critical financial support necessary to take these exciting final steps. A performing arts center of this scale and the programming it will provide has largely been out of reach to many in our community. Exposure and involvement in the arts has been proven to be a critical part of proper educational and social development. Now more than ever, such facilities are needed in Hudson County so that everyone has access to spaces that allow us to imagine a better future for all,” Sue Henderson, president of NJCU, said.

The $10 million is anticipated to be raised over a period of two years. Once complete, the arts center will encompass 25,437 square feet with a 492-seat theater, complete with an orchestra pit, fly stage and 100-seat recital hall as well as two large dance studios, performers’ dressing rooms, a scenery fabrication shop with storage, a grand lobby, and a special event space.

“I am proud to serve as honorary chair for this important campaign that will bring so much vitality to the West Side. It is an honor to have my parents associated with this groundbreaking and ambitious project. In addition to transforming the area and bringing jobs and added revenue to the city and the county, I know that this initiative will provide everyone with a special place to gather and be inspired. Since Dr. Henderson arrived at NJCU, her energy, vision and enthusiasm has led to many positive changes and this project is just one of many. She is a catalyst for growth and it has been an empowering experience to be a part of it. It’s a privilege to call her a colleague and friend,” Frank J. Guarini, a noted congressman, philanthropist and real estate developer, said.

So far, plans for the PAC have led to a partnership between NJCU and the Joffrey Ballet School to create the NJCU-Joffrey BFA in Dance program. The ballet trainer will be housed there, too.

The arts center will serve as the cornerstone for NJCU’s University Place, a transformative, $400 million project to redevelop and revitalize 22-acres on Jersey City’s West Side into a destination for education, culture, entertainment, retail and dining. The development will boast a 425-bed residence hall, 52,305 square feet of educational space and 25,437 square feet of entertainment space. There are also four mixed-use properties that, in total, will have 700 condominiums and 90,000 square feet of dining and retail space.

“University Place is a collaboration that was conceived more than a decade ago. It began as a vision of NJCU’s board of trustees, foundation board and executive leadership team. Working together with the forward-looking city, county, and state officials who saw the need for the revitalization of Jersey City’s West Side, University Place was launched as a “P3” – Public-Private Partnership – thanks to the engagement of a team of entrepreneurial developers. The buildings are constructed at no cost to NJCU students or the University,” Henderson said.

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