Sunday, May 6, 2007

monroe center for the arts

Monroe Center for the Arts, located on Monroe Street between 7th and 8th Streets, is at quickly becoming the epicenter of northwest Hoboken. The building used to be the home for the Levelor Blinds factory, but for over 15 years now it has been the homebase for our creative community.

The multiple building complex houses painters, photographers, performing artists, fashion and jewelry designers, among others. These artists offer workshops and classes to introduce both young and old to the arts. The complex also houses various businesses, such as printers, floral designers, architects, puppet makers, interior designers, music and dance instructors, pilates studios and fitness clubs.

There is also a major renovation and expansion plan in place to create over 30 new retail shops and gallery space, dedicated to rotating art exhibitions throughout the year. Plans include additional mixed use buildings creating new condos, and additional retail space. The plans are very ambitious, and we are very excited about this cultural developement.

Click here for more information:

Throughout the year, look for monthly open studio tours, gallery exhibits, film screenings, art and movement classes, educational workshops, live music, lectures, shopping and dining.

Current construction work, pictured along Monroe Street in the two pictures above, is moving along. Currently the sidewalks are being redone, and all of the windows in the northern building are being replaced. You can see from the pic below what the new windows will look like (the botton window):

The southern building, which also houses the new Shades of Hoboken restaurant, is made from concrete and steel. There is a section in between the two buildings that was just torn down and removed, but I'm not quite sure what exactly is planned for this part of the complex. The first floor will be entirely retail, which is a very exciting developement for our area. Business that have already signed leases and are building out their store fronts include a gourmet cheese shop, a day spa, and a few clothing boutiques. Once things are a little more established, I'll explore each business and report back.

Shades of Hoboken is the premiere restaurant in our area. The chef's name is Larry Kemmet, and he's a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. Shades is classic American fare, from seafood to steaks, pasta, and everything in between. They serve brunch, feature live music on certain days, and has easy parking for those who would like to come here from farther away.

I had planned on reviewing Shades a few weeks ago when my partner and I stopped in on a rainy Wednesday evening, but because of a freak fire alarm mishap, and the subsequent flashing red lights of our uniformed fire and police (not to mentioned more than a few items 'unavailable' from the menu, I've decided to postpone my review until we have a less ear-splitting dining experience sometime this spring.

Shades of Hoboken
720 Monroe Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Shades of Hoboken Official Website

The place does have major potential, and I commend the creators for their beautiful sense of decor inside. The bar is chic, the tables are clean and comfortable, and featured local artists work on the interior walls is a wonderful touch. But I do have one major gripe. For a restaurant calling upon the history of the Leveler Blinds Company, you'd think they'd ensure that their window treatments were perfect in every way possible, since they are a difinitive focal point of the restaurant. Unfortunately, every time I walk by, the wood blinds are crooked, off center, pushed to one side, and generally not laying correctly.

It's the small things in life that make the biggest impression. And this just drives me absolutely bonkers. The good news is, the smallest thngs in life are the easiest to fix. Shades, if you are reading, PLEASE FIX YOUR BLINDS!!

The staff is friendly as can be, and the martinis absolutely perfect. I'm sure soon enought we will fall head over heels in love with Shades of Hoboken, and will eventually be filled with visions of heart shaped wreaths, and healthy servings of Kobe beef. In the meantime, here's a recent review that was posted on May 2nd. Bon Appetite!

To wrap things up, here's how the final complex will look like. It's sure to completely transform our neighborhood. Ahhhh, the promise of a better tomorrow!


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