Monday, September 29, 2014

Analysis: Economic impact the major upside in Washington Street overhaul

Economic impact the focus of new website evaluating Washington St. overhaul

Hoboken's plan to upgrade Washington Street is a hot topic. The City's earlier final design announcement led to well over 100 comments, much of it heated on what should or should not be done.

The layers of improvements not ground up but below ground seemed lost with individual focus on one aspect or another of the City's proposed design. Funding will come from a variety of sources: federal, state and private to leverage the final redesign.

The Washington Street redesign will require six votes in the City Council as an unknown amount of funds will come from Hoboken itself. (MSV will update with the breakdown when possible.) The last attempt to upgrade Washington Street in 2012 was defeated when the Old Guard council: Michael Russo, Theresa Castellano, Timmy Occhipinti and Beth Mason refused to offer one vote among themselves to see passage.

City Hall is finalizing a proposed plan to overhaul Washington Street. A detailed plan will require approval
from six of nine members of the City Council.

With the vote on upgrading Washington Street ahead, there's a plethora of details to evaluate. A new website Gotham & Hudson focusing on development and urbanism outlined the proposed changes on Washington Street. 

The article notes the combined financial backing stating the proposed improvements are expected to cost $14 million, taking about 12 months to complete and Hoboken will coordinate the upgrades with "utility upgrades already planned by PSE&G and United Water."

The economic impact is directly addressed in the article concluding:

As it currently stands, Washington Street is a civic and commercial success not because of its design, but in spite of it. Anyone opposing these improvements has clearly shown they don’t understand, or are not willing to accept that reality. Washington street is too important to the city’s economic, social, and civic health to continue to prioritize the needs of drivers over all other users of the street, and the idea that reducing or reconfiguring parking would hurt businesses is an urban legend. A 2008 NYCDOT redesign of 9th Avenue between 23rd-31st Streets that has many similar elements to the proposal for Washington Street resulted in a 49% increase in retail sales over the three years following the redesign, significantly outpacing the 26% average growth over the same three-year period elsewhere in NYC. This project is essential to the economic, social, and cultural vitality of Washington Street, and will help Hoboken continue to be a leading destination in the NYC metro area for residents, businesses, and visitors.

The complete article is available at the link:
http://gothamhudson.com/revealed-complete-streets-redesign-for-hobokens-washington-street/

Talking Ed Note: The comprehensive economic impact to Hobokens's main economic thoroughfare has to be a focus in any final vote on the plan.

Washington Street upgrades will need 12 months to complete but approval in the City Council is required first.