The new black of local development appears to be temporary, short-term projects to tide the community over until the real work can be done. We saw this recently with the “pop-up” parks that were thrown together in a few weeks on sites where the actual development can’t start for some time. The theory is that instead of letting a lot grow an epic crop of weeds while residents stand around outside, gazing wistfully at what could be, they can just get in there and enjoy the space until the various entities involved—the city, state, private contractors, etc.—get their acts together. If they ever do.
So it makes perfect sense that First Ward Councilman (and mayoral candidate) Michael DeFusco has suggested that after we’ve waited years and years for Hoboken and New Jersey Transit to end their Cold War and actually do something to redevelop and revitalize Erie Lackawanna Terminal and the surrounding area (which New Jersey Transit owns) we just open up a “European-style” market right now, using the space we’ve got.
Right now, of course, the only place that’s not offensive to the eye regarding Hoboken Terminal is the grand old waiting room (and the outside is quite beautiful). The rest of the place is a damp, dirty dungeon where people scurry through as quickly as possible. Warrington Plaza, the official name of the small park-like area outside the terminal and just before Pier A Park (you know, where homeless folks once had a small shanty town) could be an open-air market, and some of the interior space could house vendors and kiosks. In other words, without breaking ground or demolishing anything, we could transform the terminal into a place people actually want to go, and enjoy it until someone actually begins construction on something more permanent.
It’s an enticing idea. If you’ve ever been to Dekalb Market in Brooklyn or Chelsea Market in Manhattan, you can imagine something similar in Hoboken: A big space where restaurants and other shops can set up, a few common seating areas—the whole thing could be done with a minimum of fuss or work. And in the ensuring years, when Hoboken and NJT are sniping at each other and refusing to work together, the good people of Hoboken could at least be enjoying a space that is soaked in history and architectural detail.
This new movement of doing what you can until you can do what you want is brilliant—especially since it means more restaurants, bars, and other places to enjoy yourself. After all, which would you rather have—a broken-down terminal that saps your will to live every time you walk into it (likely hurrying on your way to better digs) or a vibrant market filled with people, offering tasty snacks and beverages, music, and other stores? We rest our case.