Despite recent plans to reform legislation in New Jersey surrounding liquor licenses, acquiring one in the Garden State remains a costly and sometimes exhausting task. With only so many licenses available in each municipality, when one becomes available, it can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes even more. In Jersey City, one of the state’s largest real estate firms has been increasingly looking to acquire more of these valuable permits.
Harborside Hospitality Corp., which is owned by Mack-Cali Realty, L.P., applied earlier this spring to the Jersey City Board of Alcoholic Beverage Control as part of their plan to gain ownership of another plenary retail consumption license. This kind of license “permits the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the licensed premises by the glass or other open container” and, with some restrictions, “also allows the sale of package goods for consumption off the licensed premises,” according to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
A legal notice issued in early April shows that the specific license that Mack-Cali’s subsidiary is seeking to acquire is currently owned by a firm called Juice at JSQ, Inc., a likely reference to Journal Square. However, it is not clear where, or if, this license has been used lately. Filings from the New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services indicate that Juice at JSQ was registered out of New York in 2015.
The officers of Harborside Hospitality Corp. are Michael DeMarco of Spring Lake, the CEO of Mack-Cali, and Gary Wagner of Westfield, the real estate firm’s general counsel and secretary.
The news of this proposed liquor license acquisition comes a few months after Harborside Hospitality Corp. applied to buy another license in Jersey City that was owned by a firm called 382 Bar and Restaurant, Inc, according to another public notice. In addition, the company sought to acquire Casino in the Park’s liquor license last year.
These planned liquor license acquisitions by Mack-Cali’s subsidiary come amid a major $75 million transformation of the company’s Harborside development along the Hudson River waterfront in Ward E. The property, while largely remaining an office-based development, is turning from what essentially was an urban version of Mack-Cali’s outer ring suburban office parks into a mixed-use complex with a ferry stop, a beer garden, restaurants, and a food hall called District Kitchen.