Dear Members of the Jersey City Heights Community:
There is a buzz in the neighborhood about a Redevelopment Plan for Central Avenue. The Central Avenue Special Improvement District Management Corporation, an organization of business and commercial property owners within the shopping district, would like to set the record straight and address the circulating rumors.
First and foremost, the CASID is a not-for-profit organization with a reputable history in the community since its inception in 1992. The organization is led by seven trustees who are elected from within the SID’s membership. Although the trustees have changed over the years, the organization remains consistent in its mission, transparency, and deep involvement with the community. Local stakeholders continue the call for improvements on Central Avenue and the SID is strategically using a variety of tools to help address the complex economic and social challenges we face. This strategy includes, but not limited to, continued advocacy for improved City services, steadily guiding the new Jersey City Office of Innovation team in their mission to create solutions for the City’s commercial corridors, new “Restaurant Row” legislation for Central Avenue, and hiring a marketing firm to purposefully attract established businesses looking for a new place to grow into.
Secondly, the preliminary redevelopment plan drafted by the City circulating in the neighborhood is just that – a preliminary draft. It was created due to an ongoing internal discussion at the SID as it relates to exploring all options available that can contribute to the growth of The Heights neighborhood main street community. In the interest of transparency, please know that the SID has created a sub-committee to explore the benefits of a redevelopment plan and report its findings back to the board. Naturally, this led the committee to meet with the City’s Planning Department. After two meeting with business community leaders to discuss the many infrastructure challenges and barriers to improve Central Avenue, City Planning accepted the challenge of drafting a sample redevelopment plan to better illustrate its possibilities and simply further this discussion. This brings us here today where the discussion is still in its infancy and the committee has yet to submit a final report or advice on this matter. Most importantly, the SID board has not yet taken action to pursue this matter further.
Thirdly, the CASID wants to make it perfectly clear that community input and support is important to us. The CASID will only endorse a redevelopment plan for Central Avenue that goes through the process of obtaining community input and public support. Anything contrary to that would be inconsistent with the wishes of our board members and the history of our organization. We pride ourselves on creating meaningful public/ private partnerships to keep Jersey City moving forward. In the event the decision is made to expand our efforts and in fact pursue the benefits of a redevelopment plan, the next natural step is to open the process and discuss the needs of the Avenue with the various stakeholders in the community.
We understand residents are passionate about Jersey City and the words “redevelopment plan” carries a stigma. Our City has a rich colorful history known for its notorious backroom deals which makes it easy to believe that a redevelopment plan would attempt to go through without community involvement. We know asking for trust in Jersey City can be a stretch but we do ask that you do not assume the worst from our small business community. We all share the common goal of wanting a vibrant main street and better quality of life for our residents.
In regards to our Ward Councilman Michael Yun’s involvement, the SID office extended him an invitation to join our meetings with City Planning as we, and other civic groups, often do when meeting with City officials. It was made clear to us from the beginning that he and the City Council would only support a redevelopment plan that has community support.
In conclusion, the draft redevelopment plan that has been made public is serving its purpose which is to bring attention to the needs of our main street and fuel meaningful discussions. It is not a polished product or intended to move forward in its current form. Subsequently, antagonist attempting to spin the facts for political gain will fail to divide The Heights community. Whether it is through a redevelopment plan or other set of solutions, the CASID is dedicated to exploring every option available to improving Central Avenue/ The Heights and continue our mission to guide the social and economic growth occurring in Jersey City.
President Sanford Fishman and the Board of Trustees
Below is a draft of the proposed Redevelopment Area being discussed. Click on the map to see the entire draft plan.