Tag Archives: amphitheater

Hamilton Stage coming along

Work is coming along on the Hamilton Stage for Performing Arts with walls recently going up to cover most of the steel. The $5.825-million project is slated to be complete by next spring.

Continue reading Hamilton Stage coming along

Contract awarded for Hamilton Street parking

Two months after rejecting bids for the amphitheater parking lot project, the Redevelopment Agency awarded a $1.1-million contract to Gingerelli Bros at its meeting earlier this month. Berto Construction submitted a bid of $1.6 million. Bids were received July 29.

A pre-construction meeting is scheduled for next week, City Engineer James Housten said, after which construction should begin, including work on drainage, stream bank stabilization, curbing and lighting foundations. Work is expected to be completed in conjunction with renovations of the Hamilton Stage, which is expecting to be finished in the spring. Toms River-based Gingerelli Bros. also is the firm that was awarded the $5.825-million contract for the Hamilton Stage.

The Redevelopment Agency early this year decided to delay building the amphitheater and instead build about 115 parking spaces in the interim.

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The center stairs of the inbound platform of Rahway Train Station finally opened today, approximately 18 months after they were closed for repairs. 18 months. NJ Transit also issued an advisory this week that as part of repairs to the elevator on the outbound platform (which are expected to last until early next month), travelers will not be able to use the sidewalk to the corner of Milton Avenue and Broad Street from Monday to Thursday of next week due to the installation of a pump and tank next to the pedestrian tunnel.

Irene leaves her mark

Few places in Rahway were spared from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene this past week. The heaving banks of the Rahway River and Milton Lake spilled out onto streets, leaving the Veterans Field underwater, felling trees along St. Georges Avenue and elsewhere.

Former Mayor James Kennedy, now executive director of the Arts District, thought the Hamilton Stage for the Performing Arts, now under construction, “fared well” (photo above). The 4 inches of water on the platform “more than likely would not have had the opportunity to enter the building if it were all closed in,” he said via email. “I’m not concerned about the water here. The houses to the left, facing the building, really need to be removed; but the building will be fine,” Kennedy said.


The plan is to eventually acquire the remaining homes and create parking for Hamilton Stage and the adjacent amphitheater (photo left). Due to the rising costs of the arts projects, however, interim parking will take the space of the amphitheater for the time being.

Having grown up on the corner of River Road and Church Street, Kennedy said he’d never seen a storm this bad but is confident that more mitigation will occur upstream in the future.

For more images of flooding throughout Rahway, see our Facebook page, where we’ve shared quite a few compilations from readers. Thanks to everyone who shared their great photos!

Bids rejected for interim parking at theater site

The Redevelopment Agency rejected two bids for construction of interim parking at the site of the proposed Hamilton Street amphitheater. A new bid could be awarded by next month.

The two bidders — Berto Construction and Gingerelli Bros. — were about $500,000 apart, one reason why they were rejected, according to City Engineer James Housten, though seven contractors purchased bid packets. (Gingerelli Bros. earlier this year was awarded the $5.825-million bid for the Hamilton Stage project at the Bell Building.)

When the Redevelopment Agency decided several months ago to put the amphitheater on hold and instead build an interim parking lot at the Hamilton Street site, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) determined that a different permit would be required, Housten said. Meetings with state officials, however, have led to a more favorable recommendation, he said, with the process and cost to a less than if the agency had followed the DEP’s original edict and see another permit.

Part of the bid included removing remediated soil, which Housten said will be tested and determined exactly what it contains and how much there is. That process might provide for less expensive bids when the project goes out to bid next week. He hopes to have a resolution to award a new contract at the agency’s August meeting.

Early this year, the Redevelopment Agency decided to delay building the amphitheater and instead construct an interim parking lot to accommodate the Hamilton Stage. Commissioners also held off on acquiring three remaining homes on Hamilton Street that were slated to eventually become parking areas.

Agency holds off on acquiring homes

Facing a potential cost of roughly $1 million to acquire and demolish three homes to turn into parking for Hamilton Street arts projects, the Redevelopment Agency appears to be putting that move on hold for the time being.

Continue reading Agency holds off on acquiring homes

Renovations begin on Bell Building

Renovations to the former Bell Telephone building on Hamilton Street got under way this week. The goal is to transform the vacant structure into a 200-seat black box theater by this time next year, along with parking on adjacent sites that had been planned as an amphitheater.

With costs rising and taxpayers facing those expenses, as well as a $34-million school bond project approved in September 2009, the Redevelopment Agency decided to move ahead with the black box theater while putting the amphitheater on hold for the time being in favor of parking. The thinking was that a black box theater could provide year-round revenue versus the seven or eight months the amphitheater could provide while also reactivating building that has laid fallow for years. The site of the proposed amphitheater could provide needed parking in the meantime, for the black box theater and the Arts District in general.

The City Council is poised to approve, at its meeting next month, a $1.6-million amendment to a $8.5-million bond ordinance approved last spring for the Hamilton Arts District projects. The additional $1.6 million would cover the costs of parking at the amphitheater site and other associated “soft costs,” for engineering and architecture.

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If you agreed that the link earlier this week was pretty wonky, this one is very wonky: From the American Planning Association, “How Arts and Cultural Strategies Create, Reinforce and Enhance a Sense of Place” is a little on the long side at about 3,500 words but breaks down some key points about public art, arts and cultural programming, and urban infrastructure and design, while also citing a number of examples of cities around the country.

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Earlier this year, Princeton University scrapped a plan for a $300-million arts and transit neighborhood project for the area around the Dinky. The first phase would have included a 145,000-square-foot performing arts building and the second phase would have added an additional 130,000 square feet of arts space.

Price tag rising on Arts District projects

A trio of change-orders and construction costs for additional parking at the Bell building could increase the cost of the Hamilton Street arts projects by as much as $2.1 million.

The Redevelopment Agency on Wednesday approved three change-orders to the Bell building renovation project totaling about $348,000. The largest change-order was $275,000 for site work all the way around the building to the nearest adjacent home, which includes some drainage work. Another change order for $4,500 was for an alternate bid for the roof, and another set aside $68,500 for mold remediation throughout the building.

Mold is on most of the walls, studs and rafters in the Bell building, City Engineer James Housten said during a presentation to the Redevelopment Agency last week. Remediation will be done in two phases: first, clean and demolish the walls, and then the roof and windows will be installed at which point the entire interior can be fogged.

The change-orders increase the $5.825-million contract for the Bell building to $6.173 million, which Housten said was still less than the $6.2 million in the current account for the project. The cost of parking construction, however, came in at a total of almost $1.6 million, including $815,000 for Lot A and $256,000 for Lot B, and another $507,000 for soft costs and contingency.

Lot A, where the amphitheater originally was planned, would have 99 spaces while Lot B would have 58 spaces, along with 16 remaining behind the Bell Building, for a total 173 spaces, almost as many as the 202 seats planned for the black box theater, Housten told commissioners last week.

Construction bids for the Bell building renovations also don’t include the soft costs for architect fees, $281,000; engineering fees, $260,000, and utilities, $25,000. In all, the project could need another $2.1 million, not including bond and legal costs, which is broken down in this Google spreadsheet.

At least one commissioner, Timothy Nash, seemed concerned during discussion of the costs possibly rising to $8 million or more for the projects. “That’s a lot of money,” he said.

If City Council approves financing next month, the city could bid the parking lots and break ground by August, Housten said. If all goes well, both the parking lots and black box theater would open sometime next spring. He reminded commissioners that the parking lot would be available for a lot of other uses, not just the Bell building, such as the Union County Performing Arts Center and downtown activities and restaurants.

The City Council last year approved an $8.5-million bond ordinance for construction of the Hamilton Street arts projects. The Redevelopment Agency in January decided to move forward with the black box theater and build temporary parking at the site of the proposed amphitheater.

The future James Kennedy Arts Complex?

The proposed 200-seat black box theater is often referred to as the Bell building simply because it was once a Bell Telephone facility. Eventually, the arts facilities planned on Hamilton Street within the Arts District will need a real name.

During a discussion and presentation about the projects to the Redevelopment Agency tonight, Redevelopment Director and City Administrator Peter Pelissier suggested that commissioners consider naming the facility in honor of former Mayor James Kennedy.

“At some point we need to name the building and refer to it as a complex,” he said. The former mayor would be a good tribute since he “has been behind this from the beginning,” Pelissier said, and continues this passion as executive director of the Rahway Arts District.

Kennedy served five terms as mayor, from 1990 until 2010, declining to seek re-election a year ago. “It was his vision to make Rahway an arts destination,” Pelissier said. “It would be a really appropriate facility to name for Jim Kennedy.”

Redevelopment Agency Vice Chairman Courtney Clarke said the agency would give it serious consideration.

The presentation to the Redevelopment Agency included approvals for change-orders to the black box theater construction bids, an update on the parking situation and a revised financial overview. A complete blog post on the presentation is forthcoming.