By Liana Grey
Hotels and stores in gritty Newark, NJ, are getting a showbiz leg up from a summer television hit.
The America’s Got Talent show judged by Sharon Osborne, Howard Stern and Howie Mandel has kicked off auditions for for the nation’s next big thing.
And, says Berger Organization boss Miles Berger, the posse and the thousands of contestants are giving the city a nice boost in business.
“This is a city on the rise, and the significance of AGT choosing to locate here is huge,” said Berger, whose company owns a portfolio of hotels and office buildings in Newark.
Filming and auditions for the show are underway at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in downtown Newark. America’s Got Talent has also leased the former New Jersey Network studio at Berger’s Robert Treat Center, a 100,000 s/f office property on Park Place.
“AGT has two sets in place there for interviews with the judges and contestants,” Berger said. “It was a great match — they needed a high-quality studio, and we had one available.” Staff and contestants of the popular reality series currently have 50 rooms booked at Berger’s four-star, 176-room Best Western Robert Treat Hotel adjacent to the Park Place studio and next door to the performing arts center.
“Every contestant will stay with us through this season, so those bookings likely will grow,” said Shah Deen, the hotel’s general manager. “Add to that their family members and fans of the show, and our property truly is enjoying a new level of energy.”
America’s Got Talent aside, hotels have been thriving this past quarter. In a recent report, analysts at the financial services firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods said that they expect lodging companies to report second quarter results in line or slightly ahead of forecasts.
“In keeping with recent trends, luxury, urban, and resort locales generally outperformed in the quarter,” according to the report.
Restaurants near the AGT filming site, including Maize at Best Western Robert Treat Hotel, are busier than usual. And the retail portion of the performing arts center, which includes two restaurants, a gift shop, and a banquet center, have enjoyed an influx of foot traffic.“Acts are rehearsing outside on the street, which adds ambiance to the area around NJPAC,” Berger said. “There is a general feeling of excitement in the neighborhood.”