BY MARK J. BONAMO
HACKENSACK — A new plan geared toward the revitalization of Hackensack’s downtown was unveiled at the April 18 City Council meeting, The effort to bring the city’s Main Street corridor back to its former commercial strength includes zoning changes to spur economic and residential growth.
The rehabilitation plan focuses on a designated 163 acres, 39 city blocks and 389 properties centered on Main Street and the surrounding area, remembered as a commercial and entertainment Mecca in the 1940s and 50s. The proposal incorporates a mix of new housing and businesses along with open space. Enhanced infrastructure, including improved roads and sidewalks, are also part of the plan.
Planner Francis Reiner of DMR Architects laid out the plan before the council and approximately 40 residents and business people, displaying slides with scenes of the city to come.
“New zoning is intended to support and strengthen existing businesses and property owners while allowing new opportunities for mixed-use projects,” Reiner said. “Great downtowns require active streets, which require mixed residential and commercial uses.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the resolution supporting the plan. Members of the community also spoke out in support of the proposal.
“This plan does not contemplate [the use of] any eminent domain, or the taking of any property, bur rather seeks to harness the power of the marketplace to rebuild our downtown,” said Jerry Lombardo, chairman of the city’s Upper Main Street Alliance. “It utilizes solid urban planning techniques, forward-thinking zoning, and transit-oriented solutions, all of which are now being used successfully in other parts of the country. The objective of the plan is to stimulate the economic engine now lying dormant in our downtown.”
David Sanzari, president of Alfred Sanzari Enterprises, also expressed his backing for the plan, remembering other downtown redevelopment plans that never got off the ground.
“This is the first time I’ve seen something come this far,” Sanzari said.
Albert Dib, executive director of the Upper Main Street Alliance, explained why he felt this plan has a real chance to succeed where others have failed.
“This is different because you have the weight of the business community behind it, a fully engaged governing body, and the right team of professionals,” Dib said. “When you put those elements together, along with a significant community outreach program to get residents involved, you have the right mix.”
BY REBECCA D. O’BRIEN
HACKENSACK — City officials on Wednesday night embarked on the latest attempt to rehabilitate Main Street, which has languished in recent years.
The rehabilitation would “promote the creation of a livable and real downtown district,” said Francis Reiner, a planner who presented the plan at a City Council meeting Wednesday.
Comprising 163 acres, 39 city blocks and 389 properties centered on the city’s Main Street corridor, the proposal envisions improved infrastructure, roads and sidewalks, new businesses, residences and open space.
Mayor Jorge Meneses said the city is on the cusp of greater things.
“What gives me the confidence, and even cockiness, to say this is the fact that we have this plan, and the tools to move our city into the future,” Meneses said. “We don’t really have an alternative. We either make this work or our beloved city will go down the drain.”
The council unanimously approved the resolution in support of the plan.
In a recent interview, Reiner said Hackensack — the Bergen County seat, home to Hackensack University Medical Center and ample public transportation — is ideally positioned for a revival, but restrictive zoning had inhibited growth.
“This document really opens that up and takes away the component that was holding back development,” Reiner said.
A vision to redefine the downtown district and spur investment in the community
HACKENSACK, NEW JERSEY – Today, Hackensack Mayor Jorge Meneses and City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono announced the City of Hackensack Rehabilitation Plan to revitalize the city’s downtown district and reestablish Hackensack as the cultural, economic, and social center of Bergen County and North Jersey. The plan will strengthen and promote existing businesses and property owners, creating a clearly defined downtown district spanning across Hackensack using a variety of mixed-use developments. Developed by a Steering Committee of city officials, the Hackensack Main Street Business Alliance, and redevelopment professionals, the Rehabilitation Plan was a collaborative effort between both public and private interests in Hackensack.
“The introduction of this Rehabilitation Plan to the public is the first step towards moving Hackensack forward with a vision that will revitalize our downtown with new mixed-use neighborhoods connected by street, retail, dining, and entertainment options,” stated Mayor Jorge Meneses. “We worked in a collaborative manner over the past twelve months with stakeholders across Hackensack, and will push forward to get this plan adopted and into action.”
The Rehabilitation Plan promotes the development of a distinct downtown district taking advantage of Hackensack’s transportation and mass transit options and emphasizing mixed-use developments through “catalyst” areas presenting opportunities for residential, office, cultural, and civic uses. Furthermore, it begins the process to streamline zoning approvals which will help facilitate the renewal of the downtown district.
“By bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders in Hackensack in both the public and private sectors, we were able to develop a plan that gives our city the best chance to move forward with new development, new jobs, and new investment into our downtown,” stated City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono. “I am confident that as we move forward members of the community and business owners already located in our downtown are going to see the benefits of this plan to enhance our quality of life by creating a livable, walkable, and sustainable downtown district.”
The Rehabilitation Plan is now being sent to the Hackensack Planning Board which will hold two separate public hearings on the document. Following these hearings, the plan will be sent back to the Hackensack City Council for final approval in mid-June. The plan can be read in full by visiting the City of Hackensack website at www.hackensack.org. Copies of the document are also available at the Hackensack City Clerk’s office.
CONTACT: MATTHEW P. JORDAN, (973) 714-6115