For his first foray into North America, the Center Pompidou, a major tourist attraction and an integral part of the Parisian arts scene, could have gone anywhere.
With a collection of masterpieces like Marc Chagall, Frida Kahlo, and Vassily Kandinsky, and a flagship museum that has become an integral part of postmodern architecture, a Center Pompidou satellite would be welcomed by cities around the world.
But on Friday, museum officials announced that the Center Pompidou had decided to open a location in Jersey City.
“This is another feather in Jersey City’s hat and in the New Jersey hat,” said Governor Phil Murphy at a news conference Friday morning. “And another historic premiere for a state that is already home to many historic premieres.”
The Center Pompidou x Jersey City is due to open its doors in Jersey City’s Pathside Building – a 110-year-old Journal Square building – in 2024, shortly after the original Pompidou Center is due to close for renovations.
“We did not hesitate because we immediately felt that we had found the right partner,” said Serge Lasvignes, President of the Center Pompidou, on Friday morning about a translator. “I think we share a lot of things with New Jersey, with Jersey City, and with Mayor Fulop. We believe that culture must be a fact of development. “
The deal is a remarkable price for Jersey City. The museum already has locations in Shanghai, Brussels and Malaga which reportedly draw millions of visitors each year and would be a boon to any city’s art scene.
In Jersey City’s favor, however, included its proximity to New York City (Journal Square is 15 minutes on the PATH train), as well as a mayor with a penchant for high-profile enterprise and a governor and first lady who had years of experience in European diplomacy have spent scene.
Built in 1912 as an office space for PSE & G, the four-story, 58,000-square-foot Pathside Building was renovated in 1995 to house the classrooms of the Hudson County Community College. In 2017, the city approved the college’s purchase of the property for approximately $ 9 million with plans to open a museum there.
The Pompidou x Jersey City is not affiliated with the Jersey City Museum, a defunct institution whose art collection went to Rutgers University’s Zimmerli Art Museum in December 2018, years after its closure.
Friday’s announcement was the culmination of years of negotiations between city and state officials and the Pompidou government. During the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said these talks were held remotely; Pompidou staff were unable to visit Jersey City to see the proposed location and meetings were held through Zoom.
For Fulop, the project is the latest in a string of ambitious projects he has touted as emblems of a changing Jersey City, including Sci-Tech Scity, a 30-acre tech campus, affordable Bayfront housing development and the Embankment. a linear park inspired by New York’s High Line.
Journal Square was at the forefront of this transformation. The neighborhood is experiencing an unprecedented construction boom as residential high-rise buildings tower with hundreds of new units. Construction of a brand new district court is underway, just a few blocks away. And down the street, a $ 72 million renovation is planned for the historic Loew’s Theater, which recently announced a contract with Devils Arena Entertainment as a concert venue.
On social media, some Jersey City residents were skeptical of Friday’s announcement, voicing concerns that the museum was an expensive vanity project or that it would make the city’s rapidly rising property prices worse.
“Realistically, I don’t see how rents aren’t going up; Local businesses will shift from addressing current residents to tourists and newcomers, ”Jersey City artist Amy Wilson wrote on Twitter. “Museums are gentrifiers on steroids. It is what it is.”
But Fulop said the opening of Pompidou x Jersey City would “make Journal Square again the heartbeat of New Jersey for art and culture”.
“I don’t think it’s good for anyone to have dilapidated buildings here and to talk about art and culture and not really invest in them,” said Fulop.
It is also unclear how much the project will cost and how it will be financed. Last week the city council voted to issue $ 15 million in bonds for “improvements and renovations” to the Pathside building. The overall renovation is expected to cost between $ 10 million and $ 30 million.
Jersey City will also pay a certain amount of money to the Center Pompidou each year. That sum “grows” over a number of years and will peak at $ 6 million a year, according to Fulop, who said he plans to visit the New Jersey Economic Development Authority as well as neighborhood developers to lift some of the burden to wear.
But the Pompidou satellite will “100%” include local artists, Fulop said. And he hopes Jersey City residents will get special free access to the museum after it opens.
“I know we can attract hundreds of thousands of people here, so I think it’s reasonable to say that Jersey City residents have free entry,” he said.