After years of searching for a new home, Chapel Street Players will soon open a new theater on Creek View Road, as part of a mixed-use development that will also include a restaurant, a new office building and the conversion of an existing office building. in apartments.
Lang Development Group‘s proposal was approved by city council on Monday evening.
The project is a continuation of Lang’s efforts to redevelop the former National Vulcanized Fiber Company site near Paper Mill Road. He purchased the property in 1999 and restored many of its historic buildings.
The property now consists of Timothy’s restaurant and three office buildings along Creek View Road, parallel to White Clay Creek. Nearby, on Woolen Way and Dean Drive, are apartments and a refurbished stable that serves as Lang Development’s headquarters.
Lang’s latest plan calls for the construction of two new buildings along Creek View Road near the center of the property: a 6,000 square foot theater and a 4,800 square foot restaurant with a large patio overlooking the creek.
The site’s largest office building – a five-story, 106,000-square-foot stone structure that served as NVF’s mill building – will be converted into 111 apartments, consisting mostly of one-bedroom units and a few one-bedroom units. two rooms.
The company hopes the new apartments – with their historic location and impressive views of Newark Creek and Reservoir – will attract young professionals to Newark. Developer Jeff Lang said there is a growing demand for one-bedroom apartments, which is very rare in Newark.
“I think if you build T1s you will see a dramatic change in the dynamics of the apartment market. There will be different people looking for them,” Lang said. “Undergraduates tend not to want to live alone; they want to live in a group.
Lang also plans to construct a smaller three-story, 31,000 square foot office building at the rear of the property, and existing office tenants will move into it.
Timothy’s and the other two office buildings will remain, as will neighboring apartments and Lang’s corporate headquarters.
Council hails project as ‘a great addition to the town’
The Creek View Road proposal required rezoning, special use permit approval for a structure improvement in a floodplain, and a major subdivision with site plan approval. He also demanded a waiver of several code requirements, including setbacks and parking.
The project requires 490 parking spaces, but only 387 are planned. However, Lang argued that parking shouldn’t be an issue because the spaces will be used by different tenants at different times. For example, office workers will be there mainly during the day, while the restaurant and theater will need parking mainly at night.
Lang also plans to allow apartment tenants to use underutilized land behind Lang’s headquarters building, which is located up a hill from the apartment building. Lang will construct a pedestrian bridge from the lot to the third floor of the building.
The council approved the project by a vote of 6 to 1.
“Overall, I think this is a great addition to the city,” Councilman Jason Lawhorn said, noting that the new amenities will complement the reservoir and area parks. “I think it all fits together and creates a really attractive space to bring people to Newark, but also people to live in the area.”
Councilman John Suchanec agreed.
“It’s more of a restoration than a major development project. I think it’s a great addition,” Suchanec said.
The only opposing vote came from Councilman Jay Bancroft, who said he was concerned about traffic jams, light pollution and gentrification.
Lang said the new theater is expected to open by fall 2023, and the office building and restaurant are expected to be completed by the end of 2023. Conversion of the existing building into apartments cannot begin until that existing office tenants are not transferred to the new building, but the conversion is expected to be completed in 2024.
New home for a long time for the theater
Finding a new home has been a long-time goal for Chapel Street Players.
“We are thrilled to be partners in part of this project,” said CSP Board Member Frank Newton. “It’s certainly beneficial to, we believe, the city and everyone in it.”
CSP, which was founded in 1934 as the University Drama Group, moved to its present location on Chapel Street in 1968.
At this time, Newark was much smaller, and Chapel Street was still dominated by owner-occupied houses. As student housing took over, trespassing, vandalism, partying and noise became commonplace.
“Our customers don’t like walking past house parties on a Friday night in the spring, red cups flying around, leaves saying we’re going to do this or that to your daughter, whatever it is,” said CSP President Scott Mason. said, noting that the last time he worked at the theater he had to call the police after a neighbor set a sofa on fire just before a performance.
The theater, which has only a few on-site parking spaces, has a long-standing agreement with the Newark Mall that allows patrons to park there for shows, but the mall’s recent revitalization has made the parking harder to find. For some older patrons it’s too far to walk and attendance has dwindled.
The organization hopes the move to a new location with ample parking and updated amenities will spark renewed interest in the theater. Recently, CSP reduced the length of each show from three weekends to two due to lack of demand, but plans to return to three after the move.
The new building will have up to 200 seats – an increase from the current 155 – as well as a large hall, ticket office, bar and green room. The new building will be single storey and handicap accessible, which the current theater is not.
Over the years, CSP talked with other local developers and even considered moving to Bear, but the Lang deal was the right fit, Mason said.
As part of the deal, CSP will give Lang its current property in exchange for Lang building a new theater for the organization.
“It’s a really cool idea to improve this area with the creek and try to create a nice location in Newark with the theater and the restaurants,” Mason said previously, adding that the move had received good feedback from locals. members and patrons of the CSP. “People are so excited, and of course we’re excited.”
Meanwhile, Lang proposes demolishing CSP’s existing theater on Chapel Street and replacing it with a three-story building consisting of a parking lot on the first floor and 14 two-bedroom apartments on the upper floors. This project will be voted on separately.