BAYONNE, NJ – Over the past four years, the City of Bayonne has seen a large increase in economic and residential development. From a new residential complex to big box stores like Costco, Mayor Jimmy Davis has worked to bring in more “reoccurring tax dollars” to the city.
In part two of TAPinto Bayonne’s exclusive interview with Davis, he discusses all of the economic development going on right now in Bayonne and how he hopes to bring more people to the city.
TAP: Economic Development has been a focus over the past couple of years. Talk about that progress and how that is going to be for the better of Bayonne.
Davis: When I ran four years ago the one major thing that I always said was that we were the one city that hasn’t progressed over the last 25 years. If you look at Weehawken, Jersey City, Hoboken, and if you took a boat ride from the George Washington Bridge south down the Hudson 25 years ago you could remember what you see. If you did it today, everything has changed until you get to Bayonne. Bayonne has stayed the same.
The other thing was we missed out on the economic boom of the light rail. Every city that has the light rail going through it has developed along the light rail and we were the only city that never has done that. If you look at Bayonne four years ago, we had all these empty lots and closed businesses that were all along the light rail. That's what I said. I was going to develop the light rail area. That's exactly what you see today, that we're taking empty lots and closed businesses and turning them into developments to bring people into Bayonne.
The biggest thing was settling the lawsuits on the Military Ocean Terminal because we received that back in 2000 and only one project has come from there in 18 years. Now, if you go down there, there are three major projects going on right now. That's all about bringing in reoccurring tax dollars to the City of Bayonne. It will slowly bring down our structural deficit, which when I took office was at $24 million, its down to $18 million, all these developments we have going on should bring it down to about $8 million, now we have to do more to get it down to zero.
TAP: One of the biggest additions is the addition of Costco. What does a big box store like Costco, which has proven to be a successful model for other towns, how does that benefit Bayonne and the residents in that area?
Davis: It's a big benefit to everywhere it has gone. One of the reasons I wanted Costco was because they’re one of the top companies in the United States to work for. They even have a model where even if you work part-time, they offer you benefits. Not only was I looking for a store that everybody in Bayonne would shop in, but I wanted a store that people from Bayonne could work in and make a decent salary and have benefits. Costco provided both of those for me.
TAP: What does the benefit of a ferry terminal bring to the area?
Davis: Honestly, the ferry terminal becomes a game changer for the City of Bayonne. All of these developments that you see going up, right now our biggest attraction is we’re bringing people in from Brooklyn, from Hoboken, from Downtown Jersey City, a lot of them work in New York City. With the addition of a ferry, this will bring them faster to Bayonne because once they get here, they realize what type of city Bayonne is and the location of Bayonne. Its just as easy to get to Manhattan from Bayonne as it is from other cities. The ferry becomes a game changer for the city. It took me two and a half years of negotiation with the Port Authority to get this because I fully understood that this would be a game changer for us.
TAP: You’re really trying to put Bayonne in the same conversation as you would Hoboken and Jersey City. Is that fair to say?
Davis: To an extent, yes, but I think the difference between us and Hoboken and downtown Jersey City is that we still have that small town community feel to us. You have that section of town on this side of town, west of the highway, you can get these young professionals to rent apartments. When they’re ready to settle down, this is still the one city in Hudson County that you can come to and be able to buy a home here and afford a home here.
The final part of TAPinto Bayonne’s interview with Major Davis will post on June 6.