7/18/2009:

[Continuing a new article series called "Hobokenomics 101" with contributor Mark Perry. His inaugural entry was about Real Estate in general, back in June.]

Hobokenomics 101: Hoboken’s Power to Draw

economic-upturnBy Mark Perry

Well, the growing unemployment numbers and their subsequent effect on Wall Street recently was not a good one for the global, national, and regional economy. That also equates to more bad news for Hoboken property owners… unless one is looking to start snatching up distressed properties (….I’ll address that strategy in an upcoming piece). One probably suspected from the Lehman bankruptcy 3Q last year this would not be an easy or quick recovery. Although there have been some bright spots, there still isn’t a sense of a full-blown bottoming out, which is disappointing to even the most bullish of people. All things considered- it could have been a totally downbeat week….

But alas, our recent 4th of July – (as this website copiously covered) – the Macy’s Fireworks were on “our” side of the River. From my view the entire day was a total showcase of all that is positive about this area- and its ability to be one of the first places to benefit from the inevitable favorable shift in the economic winds.

As a little background, I was fortunate in that I have a friend who lives in an east-facing unit at The Doric – the big alabaster monolith on top of the cliff along the western border of Hoboken- which was a perfect perch to enjoy the show.

doric-aerial-view-union-city

Sure- the people on the piers and on the boats had an unbelievable view as well, but being on a high floor on a high cliff with nothing in front was like having an opera box reserved for the event taking in the whole panorama. The Doric has one of the best views of the area, and that was taken advantage of by NBC 4 who set up a camera crew on the roof. Since traffic was still pretty thick hours afterwards, I walked back to Hoboken- going down the Light Rail Elevator and straight east up 9th Street.

The event itself plus the stroll back home afterward put me in a much better mindset- mostly because of three things I observed.

See what the “three” were – after the jump!

(Hobokenomics 101: Hoboken’s Power to Draw, continued…)

Good things (and celebrity deaths) come in threes

There were three specific things I noticed about Saturday the 4th that reinforced my optimism about things to come:

  1. Macy’s obviously didn’t skimp.
    Macy’s is a large public corporate retailer with its eyes fixed on the bottom line. These past 9 months have been just about the worst ever for retail sales, yet Macy’s paid for no less then 4 barges doing a 25 minute set of constant, eye popping fireworks. It was billed it as “Macy’s largest ever fireworks spectacular” – an impressive and believable boast, even as advertising copy goes. Yes, there is obvious self-interest by Macy’s- great publicity- but it could have gotten the same amount with three barges and an 18 minute show. Macy’s takes a risk with their investors money by putting on these elaborate events, and they do it because they believe they will improve sales as a result. Judging by the historical success of the brand, it’s a formula that seems to work. It stands to reason that if more companies and investors do what Macy’s did- and made bets on an improvement, a quick recovery would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Regardless, as a result of that corporate optimism in practice, we all saw a heck of a show.
  2. Rio de Hoboken
    rio-de-hoboken
    Walking North Washington Street at about 11:30, the only difference I saw between last Saturday and a typical nice weather Hoboken Saturday night was the amount of young kids and baby carriages mixed in with the 20 and 30 something revelers. It was a carnival-like atmosphere, but not that unusual since we have mini-carnivals on most weekends…. and a regular carnival on Hoboken St Pat’s Day.

    Despite the obnoxious quality of life issues that arise from these events, it can’t be denied that Hoboken draws people looking to spend money and have a little fun. This is a key asset, and keeps property values up on the whole by drawing and keeping the interest of people looking for a relatively safe, urban experience with a vibrant nightlife. Its that intangible quality that will sustain Hoboken’s edge re attracting people who want to live/play here.

  3. The Wild West
    Hoboken is not the town it was 15-20 years ago. The biggest industrial areas at that time were the west side and the NE area from the drydocks north to the Weehawken border. Now, the NE waterfront area is home to a large chunk of Hoboken’s most expensive Real Estate and biggest percentage of open, public park space in town including a skate park, a beach, and several playgrounds. There has been a lot of development on the west side….but my walk back there on Saturday night reminded me of how much empty land was still back there that could be responsibly developed into housing and open public park space. Point being, there is still a lot of opportunity in Hoboken to improve.

Conclusion

These three factors- corporate optimism, the continuing attractiveness of Hoboken, and the opportunity still existing in town, most notably on the west side to improve will pave the way for better days ahead. Please forgive my probable indulgence in over-optimism here- it won’t happen right away, but it will happen. No doubt Hoboken is getting hit hard but it is well positioned to recover first.

Please feel free to email me any suggestions for upcoming contributions!

Mark Perry

Hoboken NJ

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