Growing up here in the 1970s, Shaquille O'Neal's family ushered him to two places to keep him off the streets: the local Boys and Girls Club and the nearby movie theater.

"Any place that I could be for two to three hours was always good," said Mr. O'Neal, the former National Basketball Association star, in an interview.

An old theater on Springfield Avenue is now CityPlex12 Newark, after a $7 million renovation completed in 2012 by a joint venture between the retired basketball center and a prominent New Brunswick developer.