Despite a slow economy, Hudson County towns saw a number of new businesses and even new shopping areas in 2010, from a mall in Bayonne to major chain stores in North Bergen. Restaurants, companies and supermarkets dotted the landscape.
The Hudson County Economic Development Corporation’s 2010 Demographic Profile projects that from 2004 to 2014, the number of local accommodation and food services jobs will increase more than 26 percent.
Yet some are concerned about Gov. Christopher Christie’s deliberation over continuing the state’s Urban Enterprise Zone program, which allows cities to charge half of the usual 7 percent state sales tax to attract shoppers, and allows that money to go back into the district to hire police and make other capital improvements.
Here are some of the business highlights from the past year.
North Bergen, with its industrial corridor along Tonnelle Plaza, saw several new chain stores and companies this year.
In November, Burlington Coat Factory opened a new store, their first one in North Bergen, at the Tonnelle Plaza Shopping Center. In January, Walmart unveiled a 217,240 square foot store at 88th Street and Tonnelle Avenue. The store is open 24 hours a day and features more than 30 merchandise departments, a photo processing center, a drive-through pharmacy and garden center, and North Jersey’s first Walmart grocery, which includes a bakery, deli, and fresh produce.
Last month, a new Sonic Drive-In restaurant opened in that town. One also opened at the Bayonne Crossing Mall on Route 440.
On a down note, the Pathmark supermarket located at 69th Street and Tonnelle Avenue closed at the end of October.
Weehawken, Union City, West New York
Earlier this year, King of Wings and Pizza opened on Willow Avenue near an entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, by Bayonne residents Waleed Awad and Raafat Tawfik.
“My heart is here, but I couldn’t justify it monetarily.” – Sandra Bendor, owner of the recently closed ArtsEcho shop in Union City
Further up on Park Avenue, this time in Union City, the ArtsEcho Galleria was expected to close by the end of the year. It was part gallery and part fashion boutique as well as part of an up-and-coming North Hudson art scene. According to Sandra Bendor, shop owner and executive director of ArtsEcho, “My heart is here, but I couldn’t justify it monetarily.”
The Walmart in Secaucus reopened with an expanded store in June. It was an 18-month remodeling project that added 32,000 square feet to the existing Walmart retail store at 400 Park Place. The renovated space - now 199,000 square feet - includes a complete grocery department, wider aisles, low-profile shelving, a new interior paint scheme, enhanced lighting, and improved signage.
The D’Agostino food store chain has taken an interest in a 15,000 to 20,000 square foot retail space at Xchange, near the Secaucus Junction train station, with supermarket officials visiting the site in the summer. Currently, the company is putting together architecture plans for a grocery store at the development.
More significantly, Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli is looking at bringing more business by developing the center of town, known as the Plaza, as it currently embarks on a beautification plan for the area. At the end of the year, Gonnelli met with business owners to find ways to lure more customers to the downtown area.
Hoboken is considering redevelopment proposals for formerly industrial areas near the town’s borders, and several of them include a commercial development.
The proposed Northern End redevelopment site is one of them. The Rockefeller Company, the owners of Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center, have been purchasing buildings between 14th and 17th streets from Grand Street to Park Avenue. Original plans called for office towers up to 40 stories tall. Currently, the area uptown is zoned industrial and caps development to two story buildings.
A bit of history returned to Hoboken when the Clam Broth House – the legendary Hoboken restaurant on Newark Street that dates back to the early 1900s – reopened in June after being closed for seven years. New owners and a new management team operate the eatery, with plans for a grand opening in the spring.
Among restaurants that came on the scene was The Wicked Wolf, opening in September on Sinatra Drive. It is a combination sports bar/restaurant.
Lepore’s Homemade Chocolate, which has been in business for 30 years, relocated to 105 Fourth St. in November from its old location on Garden Street.
On the downside, the Barnes and Noble bookstore on Washington Street in Hoboken closed in March, part of a trend in recent years of bookstores closing in Hudson County that included Unique Books on Broadway in Bayonne in October.
Jersey City, which has developed into a financial center of its own and earning the moniker of “Wall Street West,” continues to benefit from companies deciding to leave Manhattan.
Intrasphere Technologies Inc. a life sciences consulting firm, relocated to Jersey City's Harborside Plaza 10 building in July when its lease expired in New York City at the end of June. Princeton Information Ltd., an IT consulting firm, began shifting employees from New York City to its new headquarters at Jersey City‘s Harborside Terminal starting in January, and completed the move in May.
Moving closer into the city, several restaurants opened this year, offering a variety of cuisine. For those with a taste for Korean-style fried chicken, the fourth Bon Chon Chicken restaurant to open in the state did so on Newark Avenue in Jersey City in October. The Hamilton Inn on Jersey Avenue near Hamilton Park and the Holland Tunnel made its grand entrance in April due to the efforts of Hoboken restaurateur Michael Gondevas. And Teppan is the Japanese word for “iron plate” and also the name of the new hibachi spot on Warren Street in downtown Jersey City, not far from the PATH Grove Street stop. It had its grand opening in May.
In the entertainment sector, Pole Position Raceway (P2R), a new 80,000 square-foot entertainment facility, opened in December near Liberty State Park in Jersey City, helping the public get better acquainted with kart racing, a sport popular in the U.S. as well as countries like Australia and France.
Jersey City also looked at new ways to put small businesses more in the spotlight. In November, one week (Nov. 15-21) was devoted to the fledging entrepreneur with “Make My City” initiative, a movement challenging Jersey City residents to shop exclusively at local, independent businesses for a full week, and Global Entrepreneurship Week in Jersey City to acknowledge local enterprise in a tough economy with host of events featuring a variety of local businesses, and government and community leaders.
The new Bayonne Crossing Mall, after more five years of planning and development, is now a reality. The Sonic Drive-In restaurant opened in December as the mall’s first store.
Two Sonic Drive-Ins opened in the county this winter.
But Bayonne commercial development did suffer a bit of a setback when Gov. Christopher Christie in July put a halt to a proposed off-track wagering facility on a 6-acre tract on Route 440 North in Bayonne, just off the East Fifth Street exit. He continues to study how to revive New Jersey’s money-losing horseracing industry.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Xanadu making a comeback
Xanadu gained fame originally as the Chinese province where the Mongol emperor Kubla Khan had his garden, was namedropped in a poem by English writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and was the title of a cool Olivia Newton song and the lame 1980 movie that it was featured in.
But mention Xanadu now, and it is known as the $2.3 billion retail/sports/entertainment complex on Route 3 in East Rutherford that didn’t know when to die.
A consortium of five lenders announced in August that it had taken financial control of Xanadu from Colony Capital, a private equity firm that had been developing the project for several years. The controversial project, whose original plans included a 287-foot Ferris wheel, an aquarium, an indoor snow dome for skiing, two skydiving tunnels, movie theaters, and up to 200 stores packed into its 2.3 million square feet of retail space, collapsed in 2009 after a subsidiary of Lehman Brothers and one of Xanadu’s financial backers went bankrupt.
In the meantime, a panel put together by Gov. Christopher Christie to study the state’s gaming and entertainment industry is currently advising the governor on four potential developers vying to build out the complex. - RK