Main Street, Hackensack, NJ Main Street, Hackensack, NJ

HACKENSACK, NJ—A coalition of business revitalization advocates, the mayor and a local assemblyman say further mixed-use development in the Bergen County seat could get lubricated if the state legislature approves a plan to grant limited liquor permits for retail establishments in those developments.

The proposed legislation, Assembly Bill 4734, would allow the issuance of non-transferable liquor permits in a narrow class of transit-oriented districts that have been designated as being in need of redevelopment. For the immediate future, that definition only applies to Hackensack.

Listen to an exclusive audio news report about the liquor permits in the player below.

“A lot of development is going on in and around Hackensack, property values have gone up,” says Jerome (Jerry) Lombardo, chairman of the board of the Main Street Business Alliance in Hackensack. “Major developers have realized that Hackensack is teed up for development. It’s kind of like a mosaic, every little piece helps you move the whole thing forward.”

Jerry Lombardo, left, chairman of the Main Street Business Alliance, and Hackensack Mayor John P. Labrosse Jr. Jerry Lombardo, left, chairman of the Main Street Business Alliance, and Hackensack Mayor John P. Labrosse Jr.

“The nice thing about this bill is that it gives something back to existing license holders,” says Hackensack Mayor John P. Labrosse Jr. “We want a little bit of a restaurant crawl where people are walking up and down the street. We want a busy, vibrant pedestrian-friendly downtown, that serves liquor.”

The Alliance has assembled a number of pieces that make further development attractive, including a performing arts center, and about 1,000 units of housing that are going to be built over the top of new retail space on Main Street, Lombardo says.

“All the successful downtowns where there has been redevelopment, Hackensack is trying to do the same thing,” he says. “We need to create the retail activity, the restaurants, and everything else. As an additional puzzle piece, we know that we need to be able to sell alcohol in the downtown.”

The cost of traditional liquor licenses places them out of reach of small businesses, according to Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson, the Democratic 37th district legislator—and deputy assembly speaker—who is sponsoring the bill.

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