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Friday, September 13, 2019

A stroll on Main Street: New restaurants and apartments, but where do you park?

SIGN OF THE TIMES: A sign in the window of Frank's Shoe Repair at 179 Main St. in Hackensack could serve as a theme for the city's ambitious downtown redevelopment.
NOW LEASING: The apartment project at Main and Salem streets is now leasing, according to signs on the building, and on Thursday, a homeless man and woman made themselves at home on one of the new benches. Cap Diner is expected to open in January 2020 with "plans for farm-to-table dining using locally sourced and farm-fresh foods," according to BoozyBurbs.com.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Who doesn't like to eat?

More than a half-dozen new ethnic restaurants opened on or near Main Street this year as work continued to complete nearly a dozen apartment buildings.

Another development in 2019 is that the most ambitious project -- 382 apartments above street-level retail at Main and Mercer streets -- no longer is just a big hole in the ground, where work stopped after damaging an adjacent building in July 2o16.

New parking meters take both coins and credit cards, but to patronize Main Street restaurants and other businesses blocks from free lots on State Street or the municipal garage on Atlantic Street, residents and visitors still have to scramble for parking.

Less parking?

Hackensack may be in the midst of a renaissance, as city officials say, but the long-delayed conversion of Main Street to 2-way traffic is expected to reduce street parking even more.

Other projects include:

  • At 150 River St., former headquarters of The Record, the Borgs, who sold the paper to Gannett in July 2016, and their development partners plan to build 654 units in three phases, plus 18,000 square feet of retail.
  • On the parking lot near the Midtown Bridge, a building with 374 apartments is planned, and a building with 88 units is going up at 22 Sussex St.
  • On the former site of the Oritani Field Club at East Camden and River streets, a developer is finishing a 5-story building with 254 apartments across the street from the Toyota dealer.
  • Hackensack, Bergen County and NJ Transit are working on a mixed-use development on the site of the former County Probation Department on River Street. The bus station would be expanded, and the 6-story structure would have 140 apartments and 300 public parking spaces. 
  • Two more projects are 389 Main St., where 83 apartments are going up where Main Street turns and connects with State Street; and 435 Main St, where 230 apartments and 5 2-bedroom townhouses are planned.

You can find a complete list on the city's website at Hackensack redevelopment, but many of the so-called fact sheets are woefully out of date.

MAIN STREET CONSTRUCTION ZONE: Apartment projects stretch from Main and Anderson streets, above -- where 430 Main St. will have 40 1-bedroom apartments -- to Sussex Street, where another building is going up on the former site of the Social Security office.
BIG HEADACHE: 150-170 Main St., a 14-story residential-retail building at Main and Mercer streets, has proven to be a big headache to businesses like Art of Spice, an Indian restaurant that lost parking spaces on Main. In July 2016, pile driving cracked the foundation of a building and day care center next door to the excavation; the day care center was evacuated, and eventually, the building was condemned and torn down.
210 MAIN: The former United Jersey Bank building is being converted into luxury apartments, including 3 duplex penthouses.
CLOSED FOR NOW: Art of Spice at 159 Main St. closed after a fire in an adjacent building, according to a notice on the front door. When the Indian restaurant was open, parking spaces in the rear were far from appetizing so we'd try to find a space on the street or go elsewhere.
OPEN AND SHUT CASE: Yasou Paros, which calls itself a Greek rotisserie, opened in the first week of July on the same block as Art of Spice and served big salads and delicious Greek specialties, but closed sometime this month. On Thursday, a sign on the front door said the store was closed for vacation and would reopen after Labor Day (Sept. 2). Guess what? It's still closed.
THE WOOLWORTH: Across the street from 150-170 Main St., The Woolworth will offer 4,000 square foot of retail topped by 4 floors of apartments.
MORE PARKING IN 2 YEARS? The Alcova Cos., many months behind schedule on completion of 150-170 Main St., has purchased a law office and other businesses on Main Street, above, and plans to tear them down for a parking lot, but tenants have been given 2 years to vacate, one said on Thursday.
PUBLIC ART MURAL: In the Demarest Place Walkway just off Main Street, you'll find artist Damien Mitchell's mural, "Greetings from The Sack," above and below. Presumably, "The Sack" is an abbreviation for Hackensack I am not familiar with despite working at The Record for nearly 30 years before the Borgs moved the paper to Woodland Park, and living here since 2007.
WHY COLTRANE? The mural includes legendary saxophonist John Coltrane, above left. Coltrane once was part of the bebop group led by pianist Thelonious Monk, but didn't play on a Monk tune called "Hackensack," which was recorded in 1954 in a home studio on Prospect Avenue that is long gone.
DON'T LITTER: A colorful reminder not to litter at Main and East Salem streets, above and below.
NOT MUCH LITTER: I didn't see much litter on Main Street, but many of the storefronts are run down or empty, and owners seem to be holding onto them, hoping to make a killing by selling out to a developer.
MAIN STREET VETERANS: V&T Salumeria, above left, one of the oldest restaurants on Main Street, and Galapagos Restaurant survived the decision by the Borg family to move more than 1,000 workers out of Hackensack and close The Record's headquarters in 2009.
TODAY'S SPECIALS: The Ecuadorian specials at Galapagos Restaurant on Thursday included Fish Soup and Cow Feet Soup.
MAIN STREET NEWCOMER: Pho Saigon was opened by a young Vietnamese couple who moved to New Jersey from Queens, N.Y., and renovated the space long occupied by Wondee's Fine Thai Food and Noodles.
WRAPPING IT UP: An appetizer of Crispy Veggie Spring Rolls ($7.99) at Pho Saigon.

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