The Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy has announced that Ben LoPiccolo Development Group (BLDG) has been awarded its 2017 Excellence in Preservation Award for the restoration of White Eagle Hall, a historic theater and public assembly venue.
From the press release:
According to the conversancy, ‘the annual award recognizes the recent restoration, rehabilitation, or adaptive reuse of a building, structure, or object exemplifying a high regard for the site’s historical integrity.’ The White Eagle Hall project is one of the few buildings that is neither a designated landmark building or located in a historical district – and the first theater in Jersey City – to receive the Excellence in Preservation Award.
“Most redevelopment in Jersey City is residential and primarily multi-family,” said Norrice Raymaker, President, Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy. “Redevelopment of venues for the public’s entertainment are rare. The restoration of White Eagle Hall preserved the hall as an entertainment venue for the neighborhood.”
When restoring buildings that are designated historical landmark buildings or located in a designated historic district, developers must retain the exterior and architectural integrity of the structure, even if the use of the building changes. White Eagle Hall is unique because LoPiccolo kept the building’s architectural integrity intact although he was not required to do so by zoning ordinance. He also returned the building to its original purpose as a theater, music hall and performing arts venue.
“As a developer, this recognition from the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy is very meaningful and gratifying,” said Ben LoPiccolo, CEO of BLDG. “It was important for us in this project not just to preserve an historic building, but to make it a cultural institution again that will continue to enhance the quality of life for today’s residents and future generations. I hope this project inspires other developers to pay careful consideration to not just their individual buildings, but what kind of city they are developing Jersey City into.”
White Eagle Hall opened in 1910, constructed by polish immigrants and craftsmen under the leadership of Father Peter Boleslaus Kwiatowski, the only known secular project by a priest who built half a dozen churches throughout Hudson and Essex Counties. For decades, the theater hosted theater, concerts, sporting events as well as graduations, dances and weddings. Most famously, the hall was a practice space of the St. Anthony Friars, led by Bob Hurley, whose teams won 23 state championships.
The comprehensive restoration – which followed sustainable building standards – by BLDG brought back to life the original luster of this historical theater while adding the latest in sound and lighting technology as well as audience amenities. The White Eagle Hall restoration project also created space for two restaurants – Madame Claude Bis and Cellar 335 at the ground level – as well the White Eagle Hall performance space, which includes 28.-ft. high ceilings, 25-ft. proscenium stage and two levels of back-stage areas.
The White Eagle Hall theater space has approximately 400 seated/800 standing capacity and a balcony level that flanks the inner perimeter of the hall. White Eagle Hall features theater, dance and other performances, presented by Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) as music concerts presented by Heath Miller of Excess dB Entertainment, who is the Music Talent Buyer for the venue. (www.wehjc.com).
“BLDG has preserved the legacy of the Polish immigrants and craftsmen who built the hall under the leadership of Father Kwiatowski,” said Raymaker. “They have also preserved the memory of the St. Anthony Friars, the basketball team of St. Anthony High School, who practiced in the hall and that of Bob Hurley, the coach of the legendary team. White Eagle Hall holds many fond memories for Jersey City residents who attended dances held there during the 70’s and 80’s. A resident confided in me recently that she received her first kiss at a dance held in the hall. For all these reasons – and for the vision and impeccable workmanship – the Conservancy is proud to honor the restoration of White Eagle Hall with our Excellence in Preservation Award.”
Ben LoPiccolo Development Group (BLDG) will be presented the award at the 17th Annual Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy Preservation Awards Ceremony
Thursday May 25, 2017 at the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre in Journal Square. For more information, visit www.jclandmarks.org.
For two decades, Ben LoPiccolo been involved in historical restoration projects in Jersey City, and previously received a Preservation Award from the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy for 336 Eight Street, a row house restoration now affectionately known by neighbors as the “Yellow House.” LoPiccolo has completed more than two dozen residential, restoration projects in Jersey City, including the recent Boniface Lofts in Jersey City, which preserved the historic Saint Boniface, a Gothic-styled church built in 1863.
Ben LoPiccolo Development Group, LLC has a team of highly experienced professionals that enable property owners and investors to unlock their maximum potential return. The company provides comprehensive Real Estate Development services in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. (www.bldgup.com)