History: The Fabian and Shop Rite
Then, now and tomorrow?
When Hoboken411 broke the news that Barnes & Noble will close, the conversation in the comments section went in a few interesting directions. With Hoboken’s largest and most diverse readership, reaction to the news was followed by predictions on what’s to come, as well as memories of what came before. Great comments from several registered users spurred me to dig into the archives to bring back more memories.
It all started with the Fabian
In 1928, one of Hoboken’s crown jewels was born. The Fabian Theater was a 3,500 seat marvel. Beautifully appointed and engineered at the corner of Newark and Washington, the Fabian played host to Frank Sinatra, Al Jolson, live performances and movies. Take a look at these photos of the interior.
The Fabian thrived until the ‘60’s, when “Urban Renewal” became all the rage. In Mayor Louie DePascale’s Hoboken “old” was bad and “Hoboken’s New Look” was in. It was during this era that blocks of On The Waterfront-era Hudson Street were condemned and torn down to make way for Marine View Plaza’s high-rise apartments and parking garages. The Fabian closed for good in 1965. By 1968 it was condemned to be torn down and replaced by a shiny new Shop-Rite that would kick off the ‘70’s in New Hoboken Style.
It wasn’t long before the ‘80s Real Estate Boom of the “Delivered Vacant” era put the barely 15 year-old Shop-Rite in jeopardy. Yuppie developers Danny Gans and George Vallone set their sites on replacing it with a 1.3 acre mixed use development including two 12-story condo towers designed by architect Dean Marchetto. The “Court Street Plaza” project was debated for two years before being approved in July of 1987.
288 Condos were planned, with 351 underground parking spaces. Even with approvals, activists continued to oppose the project, which was ultimately killed by the ‘80s Real Estate Crash.
Shop Rite gives way to CVS, but what next?
Napster and iTunes killed Sam Goody, and CVS was more than happy to take the space. The owners of this retail property and parking lot don’t live in Hoboken, and apparently enjoy a tidy and easy profit renting it out. There’s still pressure to tear it down and start over. Former Mayor David Roberts was known to look out his City Hall office window and grouse about how so many tax ratables could be pumping cash into his coffers if only condo towers would replace the one-story CVS. Architect Dean Marchetto has never taken his eyes completely off the property, plans for which continue “to dance like sugarplums” in his head.
The Fabian is gone, and so is Shop Rite, Sam Goody and soon, Barnes & Noble.
What will be on this site 20 years from now?
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