By Joshua Burd
Business leaders in Hackensack are hailing the long-awaited return of two-way traffic on Main Street, a change that will likely accelerate the ongoing revival of the city’s downtown.
The Sack Business Alliance, an advocacy group for the central business district, announced the milestone recently while highlighting a host of other physical improvements to the thoroughfare. Those include significant water and sewer infrastructure upgrades beneath the road to support the new mixed-use construction on and around Main Street, along with streamlined parking and beautification of sidewalks and landscaping.
The work is more than a decade in the making — and integral to a long-running plan to rehabilitate the downtown.
“As our downtown improves, so does the quality of life for everyone in Hackensack,” said Bryan Hekemian, chair of The Sack Business Alliance. “When people can quickly and easily walk or drive to all the services they need, that’s when the downtown begins to thrive. A two-way road works because it’s easier for people to find what they’re looking for.”
As Hekemian noted, the push to bring two-way traffic back to Main Street goes as far back as 1976, less than a year after the change was made in the second half of 1975. City leaders knew that one-way circulation was detrimental to business, he said, but took no action at the time.
The Sack Business Alliance took up the issue in 2004 and ultimately convinced the city council to initiate the change, as the organization and city leaders laid the groundwork for bringing new investment to the downtown.
“When we began this process, it was determined that there was no way that any redevelopment would succeed unless the main thoroughfare was two ways,” said Hekemian, a principal and executive vice president with Hekemian & Co. Inc. “We knew as a city that we needed to make these investments to show retailers and residents that we are committed to Hackensack’s growth and revitalization.”
He added: “We want to see health and wellness uses in the downtown, office space in the downtown, housing in the downtown, and we want thriving retail.”
The change comes amid an influx of development in and around the downtown, including nearly 7,000 residential units that have been built, are under construction or have been approved by the city, according to a news release. The municipality has attracted a long list of major developers who are drawn to its convenient access to New York City, a business-friendly governing body and its appeal as a lower-cost alternative to the Gold Coast.
Hekemian added that new business downtown will bring jobs to the greater Hackensack community.
“As these businesses open and grow, it means more jobs, and as that growth continues, the need for office space, wellness, and other services will gravitate to downtown Hackensack,” he said. “The city’s vision for the revitalization of Main Street is a streetscape that’s pedestrian-friendly and visually appealing.”
With two-way traffic back, the business alliance noted that parallel parking spots along Main Street are outfitted with smart meters that accept app-based, card and cash payments.
“It was important to make parking easy,” Hekemian said. “That’s one of the biggest frustrations any driver has, but by making parking a frictionless process, it’s easier for visitors to spend the day here.”