By Myles Ma
HACKENSACK — The City Council took a first step on Dec. 18 to transform a State Street block characterized by gravel lots and unoccupied buildings.
The Council introduced an ordinance that designates several lots between Warren and Bergen streets as an “area in need of redevelopment.”
The State Street redevelopment plan changes zoning laws to encourage high-density mixed-use developments and allows for up to 230 residential units.
“I am confident that in the coming months we are going to be announcing new projects that will transform our downtown and really begin the process of returning Hackensack to the center of activity in Bergen County,” Mayor Mike Melfi said in a statement.
The State Street redevelopment plan is part of the Main Street Rehabilitation Plan. Adopted by the council in June, the plan is to overhaul downtown Hackensack by easing the building process, changing traffic patterns and pushing more mixed-use development.
The City unveiled the plan to developers in September. It received high praise from William Procida, president of Procida Funding and Advisors.
“It’s everything you want to hear,” he said. “Municipal cooperation, good design and everybody’s on board.”
The Council is scheduled to vote to give final approval to the State Street redevelopment plan at its Jan. 8 meeting.
First step towards project approval in the Main Street Corridor
(HACKENSACK,NJ) – At the December 18, 2012 Hackensack City Council meeting Ordinance No. 464-12 was introduced to designate several blocks on State Street between Warren Street and Bergen Street as an area in need a redevelopment. This is the first step prior to project approval and construction on Main Street in Hackensack. This area is entirely within the
boundaries of the Main Street Rehabilitation Plan approved by the City Council in June 2012. This designation paves the way for a project with high-density residential and mixed-use components in line with the goals set forth in the Rehabilitation Plan.
“This is the first step towards seeing shovels in the ground and real change happening on Main Street,” stated Mayor Mike Melfi. “I am confident that in the coming months we are going to be announcing new projects that will transform our downtown and really begin the process of returning Hackensack to the center of activity in Bergen County.”
Following unanimous approval from the Hackensack Planning Board on this designation, the City Council will vote on the ordinance at its January 8th meeting. The State Street Redevelopment plan allows for up to 230 residential units and includes requirements for a variety of amenities, including roof top terraces. The project will be the first substantial residential development in Hackensack’s downtown in over thirty years.
“We continue to make progress in revitalizing our Main Street Corridor with unanimous consent on our plan to move Hackensack forward,” stated City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono. “My office is speaking daily with a number of developers interested in investing in our city. We are going to see real change in the coming months that will get the people of Hackensack excited about the future of our City. Residential development remains a core part of what we are trying to accomplish on Main Street, and this is a first step in that goal.”
CONTACT: MATTHEW P. JORDAN, (973) 714-6115
HACKENSACK — The rehabilitation of Hackensack’s downtown district will span a larger area after the city moved to include additional lots on State Street in the rehabilitation plans at the Nov. 20 council meeting.
The approval came after last month’s planning board meeting where a public hearing was held in connection with a preliminary investigation to determine whether certain lots on State Street, as well as one located on Warren Street, constitute an area in need of rehabilitation under the newly approved Hackensack Downtown Rehabilitation Plan.
“The [new lots will now be included] within the Main Street rehabilitation program,” Hackensack City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono said. “It’s a site on State Street which the planning board has designated, and the council has approved a designation for, as an area in need of redevelopment.”
The lots in question are located at addresses: 76, 86, 92 and 94 State St. as well as 31 Warren St, according to Lo Iacono.
Though the planning board carried out the initial investigation as to whether it should be included in the city’s redevelopment, and the council approved the designation, the following step is, once again, in the planning board’s court.
“The council sent to the planning board a draft of the redevelopment plan for that area and the planning board will be acting on that at their next meeting [in December],” Lo Iacono said.
City Planner Francis Reiner of the firm DMR Architects further explains the process.
“There are statutory requirements in order to meet the designation of an area in need of rehabilitation, which the [approximate] 160 acres of the downtown met that criteria,” he said. “We went through that process. Once that area is designated, we changed the zoning in the area of the downtown to allow for pedestrian friendly, mixed used development to occur anywhere in the downtown — commercial, residential, retail, office…essentially a property can be redeveloped at any point now, within the rehabilitation plan, so long it meets the criteria that was adopted in that plan.”
According to the Downtown Rehabilitation Plan the criteria for the rehabilitation of a particular site is met when “a majority of the storm water and sanitary sewer infrastructure in the delineated area is at least 50 years old and is in need of repair or substantial maintenance.”
Main Street is the substantial part of the Hackensack’s downtown district. The 63-page plan was proposed, and subsequently passed in June, with hopes of revitalizing the area thus bringing in more revenue into the city.
According to a press release from the City of Hackensack, the rehabilitation plan will include “new housing, retail and restaurant options that maximize [the city’s] strategic advantages in the region.” Furthermore, one of the main expectations for this plan is “to create a new economic engine for Hackensack, bringing new value to current business and property owners and [attracting] new businesses and residential options…[the plan positions Hackensack] to see new investment in projects that will create jobs, increase [its] tax base and strengthen existing business.”
An important component of the approved plan also makes a point of establishing “a balance between pedestrian and vehicular transportation, as well as an element protecting existing historical sites,” according to the city.
The rehabilitation will ease certain restrictions — such as zoning and parking — in an area equivalent to 39 blocks. This area is known as the city’s Main Street Corridor.
However, Reiner said the main process behind the plan is quite simple, since “the city is going to look to make public infrastructure improvements — storm, water, sewers, etc. — [and] change the zoning, allowing developers to take advantage of appropriate zoning in urban areas. The city believes that, that is going to spur private development to revitalize the downtown.”
Reiner said that the plan is already coming into fruition.
“[The city has] a developer that is looking at a 200-unit project,” he said. “The city has met with numerous other developers on other available properties in the downtown and so we think that over the next six to eight months, we’ll have announcements on a number of projects.”