A long-planned renovation of Jersey City‘s historic Loew’s Theatre may finally gain momentum following a request for proposals announced by Mayor Steven M. Fulop. The new RFP arrives as a collaboration between city officials and local non-profit agency Friends of Loew’s. As outlined by the RFP, the goal of the project is to substantially renovate and restore the gilded interiors of iconic structure and fully realize its potential to become a significant cultural venue.
Located at 54 Journal Square in the Journal Square neighborhood, the theatre first opened in 1929 and is evocative of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The interiors incorporate vaulted ceilings, gold accents throughout, plush red drapes, and more than 3,000 seats. At the time, the theatre offered both live performances and cinematic features. That lasted until the mid-1930s, when the theatre decided to halt live performances to save costs.
Loew’s Theatre continued to function as a popular movie house until 1986 when the venue was closed, sold, and slated for demolition. This marked the birth of Friends of Loew’s, which called for the theatre to be reopened and restored as a multidisciplinary center of culture. Jersey City officials endorsed that vision and in 1993 purchased the property.
Since that time, the theatre has undergone some refurbishments including the removal of partitions to expand the main auditorium, updated mechanical systems, the installation of new projection equipment, and repairs to the stage lights, fly systems, and adjacent dressing rooms.
Construction costs for this phase of renovations are expected to reach $40 million and would require the involvement of an entity that would act as both venue operator and promoter. When completed, expected programming would include a regular schedule of live performances and films.
“I think we can create a practical partnership between FOL as a dynamic, community-based arts organization, and a major commercial promoter/venue operator so we can create something more expansive, successful, and contributory to our community than would be possible by either alone,” said Colin Egan, one of the founding members of Friends of the Loew’s. “FOL is committed to the goal of having the Loew’s host a regular schedule of commercial programming for the affordable enjoyment of area residents, and also as a means to provide support for the Theatre and other programming in it.”