Carteret, NJ – Mayor Daniel J. Reiman and the Carteret Borough Council named Comcast Spectra, the live entertainment division of Comcast Inc., as the manager/operator of the borough’s planned 1600 seat performing arts center. The Carteret Business Partnership (CBP), a nonprofit 501c3 economic development corporation, will serve as the developer of the site. The borough conducted a national search for operators earlier in the year and received a number of proposals ranging from regional nonprofit operators to national and international private operators. The borough and the CBP approved a five year operating agreement for Comcast Spectra to manage the day to day operation of the proposed Performing Arts Center. The Carteret Business Partnership and the Borough will have the discretion to extend the agreement an additional five year or terminate the contract at the conclusion of the initial term.
Comcast Spectra, a wholly owned subsidiary of Comcast NBC and was founded in 1975, is a venue management company that operates and manages 400 facilities for over 300 clients world-wide. Spectra specializes in the logistics of ticket sales, marketing, staffing and the upkeep of arenas, convention and exhibition centers, performing arts centers, stadiums and theatres . They operate the Atlantic City Convention Center, The Sun National Bank Center in Trenton and the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
“We vetted a number of operators and their proposals. Our development team found Comcast Spectra’s proposal and experience to be the most detailed oriented in establishing this new facility as a future success,” said Mayor Reiman.
As part of the agreement Comcast will advise the Borough and the CBP on the design review and construction of the performing arts center, in addition to providing insight into lighting schemes, sound and acoustics systems. Spectra will devise, and have approved, a pre-opening plan that will include a timeline of benchmarks, staffing plan, marketing strategy, public relations plan and an operations budget that will be provided on a yearly basis. As part of the pre-opening plan Comcast must actively and in good faith seek out qualified Borough residents for all employment opportunities. A post opening plan will include pricing structures for concessions & tickets, creating an events calendar, obtaining sponsorships for events and property management.
“Spectra’s investment of capital into the project will help towards the overall construction cost of the project but most importantly is their expertise in operations which will create a first class facility, “said Mayor Reiman.
The PAC and all its fixed assets will be the property of the Borough. The Borough and the Carteret Business Partnership will retain the right to use the Performing Arts Center for municipal events.
The administration has proposed a new streetscape to identify the boundaries of the future Arts District of which the Performing Arts Center will be the focal point. The street scape would feature piano keys painted on the streets throughout the Arts district. In 2015 a grant of 6 million dollars came from the Middlesex County Cultural Arts Trust Fund was awarded to the Borough for the new performing arts center. The borough has pledged the revenue from the sale of various redevelopment properties adjacent to the arts district to fund its portion of the matching grant.
“Comcast is a multi-national corporation with $170 billion in assets and valuation. We are pleased to have them recognizing an opportunity to invest in Carteret’s transformation into an arts and recreation destination,” said Reiman. “The Performing Arts Center will be the centerpiece of the future arts district and a continuation of Carteret’s cultural renaissance.”
The 1,600 seat Performing Arts Center will be located on Washington Ave between Pershing Ave and Cooke Ave on the site of the old Ritz theatre. The structure that was the Ritz theatre was converted into a sewing factory in 1965 and then a bakery in the 1980s. It subsequently shutdown operations in 2014 and the property was later acquired by the borough with the intention of restoring the theatre. The Performing Arts Center district will include new residential and mixed-use commercial buildings to be built by private developers that are currently under design. The demolition of the site is anticipated to begin in the Spring of 2017 with the construction to start in the Summer of 2017.
“Carteret has had a dramatic transformation since Dan became Mayor” said Council Susan Naples. “No one could have imagined a Performing Arts Center being in the center of Carteret, much less Comcast lending its namesake to the credibility of the project. Mayor Reiman had a vision for this town and he is making the vision a reality.”