It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that times are tough. Yet for all of the negative news generated about the troubled national economy, Bayonne appears to be in better position for a future recovery than many other communities.
“It’s the waterfront,” said Gil Medina, former secretary of commerce for the state of New Jersey under Gov. Christine Whitman. “Places like Bayonne, Jersey City, and Hoboken will be the first to recover because they are part of the Gold Coast.”
Over the last few years, America has seen a remarkable demographic change, reversing a post-World War II trend that had people moving out of the cities.
Since the turn of the new century, people – particularly young people – have begun to move back into the cities in what sociologists are calling “a new urbanism.”
With fuel costs expected to rise again in the future and other similar factors, young people are seeking locations nearer to the core economic centers. For this reason, Bayonne – which has the last large piece of developable real estate on the Hudson County waterfront – will benefit significantly when the economy recovers.
Chris Patella, executive director of the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority – which oversees the development of the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor and several other large pieces of development here – said being ready is part of the key, especially when it comes to receiving federal stimulus money.
Part of the recovery involves controlling costs, which means getting governmental spending under control.
“This is what Mayor Mark Smith is doing,” Patella said.
While Bayonne can expect more cutbacks including in the public school area, many areas of the local economy are poised for recovery. Bayonne’s Catholic Schools have consolidated, reorganized, and set up new programs. Bayonne Medical Center, which was near death last year, has made a marginal profit going into the new year. New rental units are being constructed, a new mall is slated to break ground, and the long-standing business institution, ShopRite, is about to expand.
A new map for the Urban Enterprise Zone reflects significant changes in the economic landscape to include a new power station along the lower waterfront and several businesses operating in the southern portion of the Bergen Point section.
With the construction of a new train station at Eighth Street and the extension of the Hudson Bergen Light rail line, Bayonne’s transportation network is expected to open even more real estate for future development.
According to Michael O’Connor, executive director of the Bayonne Economic Authority, Bayonne is ready.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.