Although the federal government announced that the nation was in a recession two months ago, Hudson County’s business districts seem to be booming.
The many new businesses that have come into Jersey City, Hoboken and Secaucus, along with chain department stores dotting the county, show a continued growth.
Jersey City Police Lt. Michael Louf said in October said that 32,000 new employees had arrived in downtown Jersey City, some due to businesses relocation from the World Trade Center.
Tony Cicatiello, the spokesperson for the Parsippany-based SJP Properties, which is developing the Waterfront Corporate Office Center in Hoboken, said that 12,000 new employees will enter the first building after it is completed in June.
Hudson County also has a number of Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) districts in the northern part of the county. The UEZ is a statewide program that allows qualifying business districts in urban areas to charge only 3 percent sales tax instead of 6. The money collected by the lower sales tax goes directly into the municipal UEZ fund to help better the business district.
The reorganization of Union City’s UEZ has allowed the city to set forth new programs in hopes of attracting new businesses into the city.
New firms arrive
Since the World Trade Center Attacks on Sept. 11, Jersey City has been able to fill just about all of its vacant office space, a phenomenon that many agreed would have happened regardless of the attacks.
By October, Lehman Brothers, a financial services firm, was already using 150,000 square feet of an office building on Hudson Street in Jersey City and Merrill Lynch began reconfiguring its 95 Greene St. offices for a trading floor in October as well.
Earlier this year, Jersey City’s Newport Mall saw the arrival of a Macy’s department store. The department store chain bought out Stern’s, which was previously in that location.
Secaucus, who already boasts of 13 hotels, has three more hotels currently under construction: the Meadowlands Hilton on Route 3, Extended Stay America on Meadowlands Parkway and another on the site of the former Hess gas station also on Meadowlands Parkway.
However, Secaucus is not just hotels. This year, Secaucus also saw the opening of Lantis Eyewear Corporation in November. The 338,850 square foot industrial building located just off Secaucus Road will also serve as a warehouse and distribution center for the corporation. Lantis Eyewear Corporation is a leading designer, marketer and distributor of quality eyewear.
Construction for a new Fresh Ideas, Kings Supermarket in downtown Hoboken was recently completed and will open early next year. Fresh Ideas, Kings, a small supermarket stocking gourmet items as well as regular groceries, had already opened in uptown Hoboken in 1999.
Hoboken will also be welcoming another supermarket into its mile square town next year. Construction on the Shop-Rite supermarket on 11th and Madison streets is already halfway completed. The supermarket will cover 67,000 square feet of the 170,000 square foot lot it is on. The plans also include 216 parking spaces.
This summer, West New York saw the opening of two chain department stores on Kennedy Boulevard; Walgreen’s on 61st Street and P.C. Richard and Son on 52nd Street. Walgreen’s also opened a location in Union City on Park Avenue this summer. North Bergen celebrated the opening of Lowe’s Home Improvement Center on Tonnelle Avenue in November, which brought approximately 300 new jobs to the township and began the revitalization of a stretch of Tonnelle Avenue that developers plan to fix up for 10 blocks.
During this Christmas season, the best time to gauge shopping activity, retailers up and down Hoboken’s Washington Street said that they hadn’t seen a great decline over the previous year. The Jersey City Central Avenue Special Improvement District, running from Manhattan Avenue to North Street, had a problem. A Special Improvement District is an organization of merchants who pay membership fees to better the business district. According to the SID members, financial mishaps resulted in the organization’s not having the money to decorate the business district for the holidays.
In Guttenberg, several businesses either closed or moved this year. The town is now suffering an approximate 20 percent commercial vacancy rate along Bergenline Avenue.
Closed forever Some may have considered D’Angelo Florists and Gifts on Washington Street in Hoboken and Nellie’s Deli on Tenth and Bloomfield streets in Hoboken to be two traditions in the small town. However, both closed their doors for good in 2001. D’Angelo Florists and Gifts, founded in 1951, closed in August and Nellie’s Deli, manned by Nellie Lenz for 40 years, closed in January.
Another tradition in Hudson County, Certified Bakery in Union City, famous for its pumpernickel and rye bread, was destroyed in a fire in February. Certified had opened in 1960 sold its bread nationwide. The bakery never reopened.
Pets Plus on Paterson Plank Road in Secaucus also closed this year after being in business for more than a decade.
North Bergen will see the close of K-Mart’s distribution center on West Side Avenue close right after the New Year. The building will shut its doors on Jan. 15, leaving 500 people without jobs right after the holiday season.
However, according to K-Mart spokespeople, the distribution center closing will not effect the K-Mart store on Tonnelle Avenue and 74th Street in North Bergen.
Also in North Bergen, a proposed $50 million shopping center tentatively known as the Commons of North Bergen – slated to be built along Tonnelle Avenue at the site of the vacant Crown Cork and Seal factory and a current shopping area – has been put on hold until the developer and the current landowner agree on a sale price for the property.
Weehawken has also seen some seesaw action with its commercial residents. While Hartz Mountain Industries, which owns and operates Lincoln Harbor plaza, made plans to move ahead with the construction of two more office structures for the Lincoln Harbor facility, some of Lincoln Harbor’s established businesses, like Hanover Direct, a mail-order company, closed up shop in Weehawken and filed for bankruptcy.
Keeping clean and helping out
In Union City, the UEZ Development Corporation, a nine-member advisory board consisting of seven local merchants and two residents, has been busy working to clean up their business districts to attract new businesses and developers into the area. The UEZ recently held a grand reopening for K and S Curtains, the first business to complete a new fa