JERSEY CITY, NJ - The Fulop Administration is about to propose the Central Avenue Streetscape Redesign and Roadway Improvements project to transform The Heights’ main commercial thoroughfare into a premier shopping district with enhanced safety and beautification.
The redesign project, officials say, will stimulate the nearly mile-long shopping district along Central Avenue which is home to 240 storefronts, 1,400 employees, and thousands of visitors per day. With improvements to pedestrian and vehicular safety, traffic flow, and overall aesthetics, the redesign will encourage shopping, dining, nightlife, culture for the community, and future redevelopment.
While Central Avenue is the principal shopping district in The Heights section of Jersey City, many of its buildings are, by most accounts, in deplorable shape. Many of the traditional stores that once occupied the 12-block strip have closed to be replaced by discount stores.
Comprised mostly of one to four-story buildings with first floor retail, the Central Avenue corridor also includes a handful five-story buildings, a few two-family homes, some light industrial property, two city-owned parking lots, a church, and various other buildings.
The redevelopment plan claims the area is a viable candidate for increased density, partly because of its proximity to public transportation including the Hudson Bergen Light Rail line, bus lines, and other transportation.
Three years ago, a draft redevelopment plan backed by then Councilman Michael Yun looked at an area of about 35 acres and 356 parcels, going north along Central Avenue from Booraem Avenue to North Street. The plan also covered some adjacent lots along Cambridge Avenue, which runs parallel and east of Central Avenue.
The new proposal put forth by Fulop stops short of the full redevelopment the now deceased councilman hoped to achieve but seeks to reinvigorate the traditional Central Avenue business district.
“We want to give our small business owners the tools to succeed which will ultimately come full circle to support Jersey City’s economy and serve as building blocks for a prosperous future,” said Fulop. “This project goes beyond beautification with much broader goals to support retail and business, entice shoppers, grow commerce, stimulate growth, spark innovation, and expand local job opportunities.”
The $4 million project is the Administration’s latest investment to boost small businesses, which were among the hardest hit by the pandemic. In partnership with the Central Avenue Special Improvement District (CASID), which represents the local business community, the city is working to improve the safety and walkability of the nearly one-mile shopping district tackling major infrastructure improvements.
“This project has been a long time coming and it breathes new life into the neighborhood and business community surrounding Central Avenue,” says Sanford Fishman, President of the Central Avenue SID and longtime pharmacist at Bond Drugs. “On behalf of our 450 members, CASID thanks Mayor Fulop, late Councilman Michael Yun, and the entire City Council for responding to the needs of our main street community in such a large way. The pandemic has devastated so many small businesses and this streetscape project is the start of a new beginning for Central Avenue.”
The streetscape improvements along Central Avenue, from Manhattan Avenue to Paterson Plank Road, will include new colored concrete curbs and sidewalks, handicapped curb ramps with detectable warning surface, milling and resurfacing of the roadway, new traffic striping, improved signage, additional traffic signals, bike racks, trash receptacles, as well as decorative benches for a more welcoming and enticing atmosphere.
The plans include a tree-lined street look with the preservation of over 80 existing trees combined with the planting of over 100 new trees. The new lighting fixtures will use energy-efficient LED lights and will be strategically spread through the district to ensure safety on both the sidewalk and roadway.
“This redesign will drastically change the overall look and feel along Central Avenue which is currently plagued by crumbling sidewalks and asphalt,” said Ward C Councilman Richard Boggiano. “We want to attract shoppers from all over Hudson County to shop here in Jersey City, and the new amenities and enhancements will do just that.”
Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh, who was appointed to the seat after Yun’s death said that he was proud to pick up where his predecessor left off. “It’s a critical time, now more than ever we must invest in our small businesses, and I’m committed to working together and finishing what Councilman Yun started, so we can catalyze the economic development of The Heights amid these challenging times.”
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