Home E/M Sentinel E/M Sentinel News Officials eye a Metuchen Arts District with the historic Forum Theater at...

Officials eye a Metuchen Arts District with the historic Forum Theater at the forefront

Officials plan to make the Forum Theatre part of a new arts district in Metuchen.

METUCHEN — Borough officials have made the first steps toward the creation of a Metuchen Arts District.

“The Metuchen Arts District came out of an idea of making sure the Forum Theater is preserved and that we have a theater in this community for years to come,” Mayor Jonathan Busch said.

He also reported that not only do officials want to preserve the theater, but also restore the 1928 theater.

“The idea of an arts district would go from the Forum Theater along Main Street and the corner of Amboy Avenue where the abandoned gas station is,” Busch said

The Forum Theater is one of the only 450-seat, single-screen privately owned theaters in the state.

The Borough Council approved resolutions at a council meeting on Aug. 13 for the Planning Board to conduct a preliminary investigation for a redevelopment plan for the Forum Theater and the vacant site with the gas station as well as make a formal request to the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders for grant funds.

“The county has been incredibly generous to Metuchen over the years with respect to projects like the Metuchen Greenway and they helped us with funds for our plaza,” Busch said.

Busch said the county has shown to be very generous with other communities in the county specifically for the arts including theaters in Woodbridge and Carteret and a project in New Brunswick with the George Street Playhouse.

Councilman Reed Liebfried said the space of the abandoned gas station has been vacant for a number of years.

“That could be our link of foot traffic to South Main Street,” he said. “I think it’s really an excellent opportunity and possibility to move forward as an artistic hub.”

Councilwoman Allison Inserro agreed with Liebfried’s sentiments.

“This sounds fantastic,” she said.

Inserro inquired how an arts district would run in relation with the Metuchen Downtown Alliance (MDA). Busch said it may be too early to know how everything will run together; however, he said it is not too early to discuss.

“Everything will enhance everything else if we had an arts district,” he said, adding another positive aspect of the area is the proximity to the train station. “People coming from out of town will certainly help our downtown and it would benefit our MDA members. There are so many different aspects, I do not really know what will happen along the way, but this is a process.”

Isaac Kremer, executive director of the MDA, welcomes the discussion to establish a Metuchen Arts District.

“A revitalized Forum Theater will have a positive economic impact on businesses throughout the downtown while providing more entertainment options that residents want and which our market research says is needed,” he said.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.

Exit mobile version