Friends of the Loew’s Public Statement on Today’s Court Ruling Enforcing Our Lease
The Judge hearing the lawsuit over the Friends of the Loew's lease ruled today that our lease of the Loew's is in full force and effect, and that the City's claim otherwise is not correct.
FOL is obviously gratified by this ruling, and we are happy that it removes the cloud of doubt that's been hanging over the Theatre.
But as far as we are concerned, the issue and any bad feelings it has caused are behind us. Now is the time to sit down with Mayor Stephen M. Fulop and the City to plan how to truly take the ongoing restoration and operation of the Landmark Loew's to the next level.
What Mayor Fulop said more than a year ago that he wants for the Loew's is not very different from what FOL has been saying since we started the effort to save the Theatre from the wrecking ball many years ago: The Loew's needs to be an arts center to serve and showcase our community. To do this, there certainly needs to be big concerts by big promoters; but this has to be within a framework that makes everything else the Loews has to do sustainable, including affordability in the arts, youth programming, local arts, film, community interest activities and more.
FOL has learned a few things over the many years we've had to pursue those goals for the Loew's without the help and support the City was supposed to provide under the lease. And because of this practical, hard-won knowledge, we understood that while the plan the City had recently put forward might attract some concerts, it simply didn't have enough in it to truly support everything else the Mayor and FOL want the Loew's to do for the people of Jersey City. And that's why we opposed it.
But that's not to say a plan can't be crafted that will work. Actually, FOL is certain such a plan can and should be created, and to help do just that we retained the assistance of a nationally recognized expert in theatre management who works with arts centers all over the country. By working together, we're certain that this consultant can help FOL and the City make a plan for the Loew's that will achieve all the goals for the Loew's.
Right now, the City and FOL can make a fresh start at working together if the City allows FOL to use the more than $500,000 in grant money we had won to make some important fire-safety and other code upgrades; while the court case was still ongoing, the City would not move forward with this vital work. The City also received $2 million from a Journal Square-area developer for the Loew's, and now the City can use this money right away to make additional important code repairs that will go a very long way toward enabling the Theatre to host bigger and more frequent shows.
The statement that City Hall put out this afternoon about the Judge's ruling shows genuine upset — FOL understands this, because we've had to deal with disappointment and upset for years as past administrations were not able to keep their commitments of support. But now is the time to find common ground and move forward together.
Today’s court ruling shows that Jersey City's very special brand of civic activism, in which over the decades good citizens have selflessly come together to define, achieve and safeguard an array of goals to make life better here, is very much alive. And that is a victory for all the people of Jersey City.