The ribbon-cutting ceremony at The Art House on Christopher Columbus Drive drew a curious cross-section of the city’s population. While political types mingled with many of the usual social elite, the crowd on June 6 also included artists and Ward F residents.
Although ostensibly a luxury rental building, The Art House lobby also serves as an art gallery, designed primarily to promote local artists while serving as a funding vehicle for art education.
The Art House is a new residential building featuring 119 luxurious rental residences with indoor and outdoor amenities, including a rooftop pool. While being sold as part of the Powerhouse Arts District, the building – located only a few steps from the Grove Street PATH – fills in a gap in development of Grove Street area.
Developed by The Shuster Group and designed by Fogarty Finger Architects and LWDMR & Associates, The Art House provides new luxury accommodations in the middle of an area long seen as a rival to New York City’s West Village.
The cutting of the ribbon on the gallery space also sets into motion rental of units that are expected to start being occupied on Sept. 1.
“Too often art is absent from the poor community.” – Alvin Pettit
Among those who attended the event were curator James Pustorino and artists Edward Fausty and Maria Pavlovska.
Commerce and the community combine
Fulop said developer The Shuster Group was local and had developed other projects, but this is the company’s first foray into downtown.
The educational program is a joint effort between The Mary McLeod Bethune Center and the City of Jersey City to promote local artists by displaying and selling their creations to help inspire underserved youths through advanced visual arts courses.
Complete with a red carpet and welcoming attendants offering glasses of champagne, the gallery got a first class kick off.
“The Art House is a building where we can see how the developer and community can come together and create a win-win-win situation for everyone, “said Eyal Shuster, owner of The Shuster Group.
He said as an individual who is raising his family in Jersey City, he wanted this space to reflect the win-win-win motto his company has adopted.
“At the entrance of this space we have an art gallery that we have created in order to showcase the local Jersey City artists,” he said.
“Seventy percent of the profits go to the artists, 30 percent go to a not-for-profit organization we have partnered with and the city to help underserved teenager at several locations to get exposure to artist. We will have classes in which local Jersey City artists will be paid to teach teenagers art.”
In addition, Schuster Group hired five ex-offenders to work on the construction through the city’s Employment Training Center.
“We helped them through the city to go back to a normal life,” he said. “Although we were skeptical at the beginning, we saw that it was an amazing program, that helped us a lot and I’m sure helped those five individuals.”
A hint at Jersey City’s future
“Jersey City is going through one of the great revitalization stories in the entire country,” Fulop said. “Two decades ago, this was a section of the city was severely challenged. Over time and through investment and partnerships, that has really changed. Right now in Jersey City we have under construction 6,000 units and we have about 25,000 in the pipe line over the next two years. We will overtake Newark as the largest city in the state at some point in 2016. I can comfortably tell you over the next five years the 20 largest buildings in New Jersey will be here. We’re doing it smartly and were doing it with partners like Eyal Shuster.”
Fulop said this project is important because five or six years ago there was a project here that was started, and the developer at the time failed.
“For several years what sat here was a half-completed project,” Fulop said. “We got complaint after complaint after complaint about the construction site that was literally abandoned. Eyal is modest. But he tries to touch on all parts of Jersey City. That is important. He has taken this site and rebuilt it and taken projects on the other side of the city in Ward E and Ward A as well.”
Artist Alvin Pettit said he was pleased with the developer and the city for bringing arts to every part of the city.
“Too often art is absent from the poor community,” he said. “The residents will now have five outlets where they can create. I’ve been a working artist for the last 20 years. I’ve done murals and had people come up to me countless time telling me their son or daughter likes to draw. But in certain areas, they’ve never been in an art gallery.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.