Hackensack is a transit-oriented district designated in need of redevelopment and because of this it would be eligible to issue non-saleable, non-transferable liquor permits if proposed legislation is passed. Assembly Bill 4734 could allow these limited liquor permits elsewhere as well, but only Hackensack meets the current criteria right now.
“A lot of development is going on in and around Hackensack, property values have gone up,” said 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.”
Additional development plans for a new performing arts center and 1,000 new apartments atop retail on Main Street have made Hackensack even more attractive to developers and Mr. Lombardo agreed, “As an additional puzzle piece, we know that we need to be able to sell alcohol in the downtown.”
Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson is sponsoring the bill because traditional liquor licenses are cost prohibitive for smaller businesses and said, “The city or some entity will hold the ownership of this permit and will issue them to small restaurants.” And these permits will not be available to large chain restaurants.
Existing liquor license holders will be given part of the proceeds from the issuance to make up for the added competition. The Mayor of Hackensack, John P. Labrosse, Jr., is a proponent of the permits, “The nice thing about this bill is that it gives something back to existing license holders. 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.”
All officials involved are confident the bill will pass in the Assembly but realize it may need to be approved by the new governor of New Jersey after the election this fall.