Special Improvement District Being Studied for Hoboken

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Vacant storefronts along Washington Street, Hoboken. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

The Mile Square City could possibly be designated Hudson County’s next Special Improvement District (SID), as officials in Hoboken have taken a step forward to study the feasibility of the idea.

At the city council’s March 6 meeting, a presentation was made on the potential city-wide SID. The proposed district would provide businesses in Hoboken a greater say in terms of where investments should be made to improve economic conditions, in addition to promotion and other benefits.


After the presentation, a contract was awarded to Ocean-based Economic Development Strategies for “Phase II” of a SID Feasibility Study. The move comes at a busy time along Washington Street, as the long-delayed redesign project is finally slated to wrap up in late May. Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla appears to strongly support the idea of a SID designation.

“Our businesses are what make Hoboken special, and I know a Special Improvement District would be a game changer for the continued revitalization of our City,” Bhalla tells Jersey Digs. “I’m thrilled to support our business community as they move forward with Hoboken’s Special Improvement District, which has proven successful in over 90 cities across New Jersey.”


Following a rash of retail closings last year that some blamed on the Washington Street redesign project, a debate about how to best support and attract businesses, particularly along Hoboken’s main artery, has emerged. While some have advocated for the SID, others have pointed out that expanding Central Business District (CBD) zoning that exists on a portion of Washington Street could make filling those retail spaces easier on tenants.

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Washington Street, Hoboken. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

The CBD currently runs from Washington Street’s southern end north to 4th Street, while the rest of the road is subject to what’s known as R-1 (or residential) zoning. As a result, buildings north of 4th Street have more restrictive regulations that usually require a business that’s changing the use of an existing storefront (i.e. from a clothing store to a restaurant, for example) to gain approval from the city’s planning board. Several newer restaurants, including Makai Poke Company, Garlic & Tahini House of Shawarma, Jungle Juice Smoothie Bar, and the upcoming Muteki Ramen and Mango Mango Dessert all had to go before the planning board to move forward, an added step that can be costly for small businesses.

Hoboken completed a Master Plan in 2018 that recommended rezoning all of Washington Street into two commercial districts, one from the southern tip north to 7th Street and another from that point to the northern terminus that applies only to buildings on the western side of the road. While a Special Improvement District might not happen for a while, 1st Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco says the council will be voting on the Central Business District zoning expansion later this month.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Instead of taxpayers again being asked to subsidize the property owners and retail business owners of Washington Street I would like to see those same people step up reach into their own pockets and investing their own profitability. In the past very few of them have done so when asked. Case in point the when the holiday lights on Washington Street were in need of replacement the taxpayers paid for them. I would also like to hear from those who actually live on northern Washington Street be asked if they want to see their neighborhoods become far more commercial and akin to the mess and chaos that now exists in the First Ward.

  2. Unless I missed it, seems a key point about a Special Improvement District isn’t clear in the story: Isn’t there an added tax assessment for businesses in a SID?

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