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Hackensack Swings First Ax To Create New Arts Center

Hackensack Councilman David Sims takes some swings at the Construction Kickoff Ceremony for the city's new performing arts center on State Street. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Hackensack officials take a ceremonial swing at the old Masonic Lodge on State Street. Its transformation into a new performing arts center has begun. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Hackensack John Labrosse addresses a gathering outside the old Masonic Lodge on State Street. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Mario Vickram Sen of Hackensack, guitarist with Inner Gypsy, performs at the construction kickoff ceremony for the city's new performing arts center. He was accompanied by Mario Giacaloni of Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Hackensack Cultural Arts Board. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash

HACKENSACK, N.J. — Hackensack leaders gathered in front of the historic Masonic Lodge on State Street Tuesday to kick off its transformation into the Hackensack Performing Arts Center.

The state-of-the-art, 224-seat theater is scheduled to open in Spring 2017.

It will become the home of the city’s many local theater companies and the city’s Department of Cultural Arts.

Directly behind the building is the new triangular Atlantic Street Park. It is a third of an acre and stands at the nexus of Atlantic, Warren, and Streets streets.

“There’s an old Joni Mitchell song from the ’60s or ’70s: ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,’” said an exuberant Mayor John Labrosse at the construction kickoff ceremony.

“In Hackensack, we got it backwards,” he added. “We took down the parking lot and put up a park.”

The project, part of a renaissance of the entire downtown city, will bring great acts – local and from afar – to Hackensack, Labrosse said.

The city offers a plethora of outdoor, warm-weather entertainment series, including “Shakespeare in the Park” and “Movies Under the Stars.”

“Once we can move events inside, it’s going to be even better,” the mayor said.

The renovation project is funded by $400,000 in private donations raised by the Hackensack Main Street Business Alliance and $2 million in municipal funding, according to a statement issues by the city.

Jerry Lombardo, chairman of the alliance, called the ceremony “a great moment for the whole community.”

“What makes this even more special is the effort to bring the arts to the downtown has received enthusiastic support from every corner of our diversified city,” he said.

Other projects under way as part of the downtown revitalization effort are the building of a new indoor SportsDome, a major expansion of the existing Recreation Center, and the construction of more than 1,000 new residential units, most along Main Street.

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