History: The Fabian and Shop Rite

1/28/2010:

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.

Hoboken The Fabian exterior street view

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.

Old Hoboken Shop Rite at Newark and Washington Streets where CVS is now

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?

Ultimately even the downtown Shop-Rite couldn’t survive. The site was ultimately re-configured to house CVS, Sam Goody, NYSC and the soon-to-be-departed Barnes & Noble.

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.

What next for the CVS Barnes and Noble lot in Hoboken NJ Fabian

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?

Share your favorite memories of this block and Hoboken gone by below here on the most read website about all things Hoboken!

33 Responses

  1. getz76 says:

    Holy hell, that theater is gorgeous. Too bad people do not like live entertainment any more.

    I could totally see some high-rises over that way. Build that entire lot (with the parking lot), with ground level retail and a large parking deck. CVS, NYSC, Trader Joe’s and a Wendy’s. 15 floors of apartments, probably about 300 units.

    Not saying I want to see that happen, but could totally see that happen. Might be good and bad…

    • pawzclawz says:

      I had pretty much the same conversation with a co-worker yesterday. He said. They will probably tear down and build highrises or build highrises with retail space below. I replied to him. I really don’t want to see that happen.

      In response to getz76 who said:

      Holy hell, that theater is gorgeous. Too bad people do not like live entertainment any more.

      I could totally see some high-rises over that way. Build that entire lot (with the parking lot), with ground level retail and a large parking deck. CVS, NYSC, Trader Joe’s and a Wendy’s. 15 floors of apartments, probably about 300 units.

      Not saying I want to see that happen, but could totally see that happen. Might be good and bad…

      • Alpuj says:

        i dont see why a tear down multi-use building would be a bad idea? I mean its not like the facade or current use is historical at all. Its not maximizing the use (or tax base) with the current set up. I am sure it is zoned for a more intensive use. It is right near (like literally next door) to the biggest and most diverse mass transit hub in New Jersey. If the parking can be done under the building and a first/second floor that even brings back the CVS, NYSC, and larger retail (ShopRite, Trader Joes, etc) you wouldn’t even be losing anything, and just adding more residences. Not the worst thing.

        In response to pawzclawz who said:

        I had pretty much the same conversation with a co-worker yesterday. He said. They will probably tear down and build highrises or build highrises with retail space below. I replied to him. I really don’t want to see that happen.

      • pawzclawz says:

        It’s not the worst thing. It’s not even a bad idea. It’s just that after a while developement is overkill. I am speaking personally.

        In response to Alpuj who said:

        i dont see why a tear down multi-use building would be a bad idea? I mean its not like the facade or current use is historical at all. Its not maximizing the use (or tax base) with the current set up. I am sure it is zoned for a more intensive use. It is right near (like literally next door) to the biggest and most diverse mass transit hub in New Jersey. If the parking can be done under the building and a first/second floor that even brings back the CVS, NYSC, and larger retail (ShopRite, Trader Joes, etc) you wouldn’t even be losing anything, and just adding more residences. Not the worst thing.

      • wiskeytango1 says:

        as a kid mom would take me to the Fabian during the tail end of ww2..they had vaudveille acts after the movies..Dad worked swing shifts in the former scott paper cutrite factory at 50 harrison st
        i was moms date..I once saw the beast with five fingers peter loree scarred the crap out of me..if you see it on turner classics you will know what i mean..They had a japanese two seater dive bomber on display with lots of bullet holes in it.
        I guess tv and cable did the movie house in as well as journal square..answer in time nothing but condos will fill the space left by the former tennents..At least we can watch the pics on tv

        In response to pawzclawz who said:

        I had pretty much the same conversation with a co-worker yesterday. He said. They will probably tear down and build highrises or build highrises with retail space below. I replied to him. I really don’t want to see that happen.

      • wiskeytango1 says:

        If i may add to the fabian in the late 40’s early 50’s when our parents wanted to get rid of us humm four railroad rooms u betcha.We would go to show we could afford..Fabian was 40cents We use to grab neighbors deposit bottles and earn the fee .The rivoli was a dirty showhouse..105 washington st were the north bank pkg lot now stands..25 cents on saturday to see 25 cartoons and serials three stooges..when you came out you had lice.It was called the scratch house..the us theater was a bit more refined..The fabian we let one kid pay and he would open the side door …Journal square was great three movie houses.
        family told me in 1939 premiere of gone with the wind the girls wore gowns and the men tie and tails..then over to nedicks for an drink and a dog for a dime..wow wow..now all condos..

        In response to wiskeytango1 who said:

        as a kid mom would take me to the Fabian during the tail end of ww2..they had vaudveille acts after the movies..Dad worked swing shifts in the former scott paper cutrite factory at 50 harrison st
        i was moms date..I once saw the beast with five fingers peter loree scarred the crap out of me..if you see it on turner classics you will know what i mean..They had a japanese two seater dive bomber on display with lots of bullet holes in it.
        I guess tv and cable did the movie house in as well as journal square..answer in time nothing but condos will fill the space left by the former tennents..At least we can watch the pics on tv

    • plywood says:

      OK, let’s use your 300 units with let’s say 300 onsite parking spots. How many vehicles will this attract? The 300 for sure, with another 100 to 150 or so for residents who have two cars for one unit for whatever reason, so they park the less used one on the street with residential parking permit. Of course probably one in ten residents doesn’t own a car, so they rent their spot out to a non-resident friend who works in Manhattan.

      Now try this. 100 residential units with 300 parking spots, 100 spots for the building residents with only additional residential street parking permits allowed at double fee, 50 spots with 1 hour time limit for on-site retail / visiting city hall or PD use, and 150 spots given on a monthly contract for first come, first serve basis for residents who live within 4 blocks of the site and can document that they own / rent a residential unit that has no parking space. One spot per address, when that is exhausted, second spot at double fee. If you really want to work it, the person need also produce a pay stub to prove they work in an area thinly served by mass transit (read much of New Jersey) or pay an upcharge. I dislike making this parking for the rich, which is why the fee for the first car should be held down where it makes sense.
      I don’t believe this formula would produce that much new car influx other than for the new units being created.

      Most of New Jersey is not mass-transit friendly. Let’s stop pretending many / most Hobokenites own cars for discretionary reasons. Many shoar AND long term residents do not work in Manhattan, nor can they install a driveway. They would like new development (read: density) that works for them too, and silly little parks / green spaces usually floated don’t fit the bill.

      In response to getz76 who said:

      Holy hell, that theater is gorgeous. Too bad people do not like live entertainment any more.

      I could totally see some high-rises over that way. Build that entire lot (with the parking lot), with ground level retail and a large parking deck. CVS, NYSC, Trader Joe’s and a Wendy’s. 15 floors of apartments, probably about 300 units.

      Not saying I want to see that happen, but could totally see that happen. Might be good and bad…

      • getz76 says:

        I have no problem with development and I have no problem with cars. They would need to completely rework the traffic flow for that block if they did development here. It gets rough at Observer and Washington and Newark and Washington already, and with the buses flying out of the terminal onto Observer, where are the entrance and exit going to be? Observer? Washington? Hudson? Newark between Hudson and Washington is a disaster as it is.

        It is a tough spot. I am not a civil engineer, but I would think there would be a lot of work involved. Maybe if they cleared the street parking on that block… I do not know. I like the idea of perimeter parking, but I think it would be better suited away from Washington.

        In response to plywood who said:

        OK, let’s use your 300 units with let’s say 300 onsite parking spots. How many vehicles will this attract? The 300 for sure, with another 100 to 150 or so for residents who have two cars for one unit for whatever reason, so they park the less used one on the street with residential parking permit. Of course probably one in ten residents doesn’t own a car, so they rent their spot out to a non-resident friend who works in Manhattan.

        Now try this. 100 residential units with 300 parking spots, 100 spots for the building residents with only additional residential street parking permits allowed at double fee, 50 spots with 1 hour time limit for on-site retail / visiting city hall or PD use, and 150 spots given on a monthly contract for first come, first serve basis for residents who live within 4 blocks of the site and can document that they own / rent a residential unit that has no parking space. One spot per address, when that is exhausted, second spot at double fee. If you really want to work it, the person need also produce a pay stub to prove they work in an area thinly served by mass transit (read much of New Jersey) or pay an upcharge. I dislike making this parking for the rich, which is why the fee for the first car should be held down where it makes sense.
        I don’t believe this formula would produce that much new car influx other than for the new units being created.

        Most of New Jersey is not mass-transit friendly. Let’s stop pretending many / most Hobokenites own cars for discretionary reasons. Many shoar AND long term residents do not work in Manhattan, nor can they install a driveway. They would like new development (read: density) that works for them too, and silly little parks / green spaces usually floated don’t fit the bill.

  2. realstuff says:

    It certainly was a class place and in the 50’s had a few live 50’s Rock n Roll with big name groups and stars….

  3. plywood says:

    Density, density, density.

    How about 6 levels of housing over 10 levels of parking? That might work for existing residents. Oh yes, I forgot, more parking, more cars argument. Everyone should sell their car in Hoboken argument.

    • getz76 says:

      Density indeed. More AUTOMOBILE traffic in that part of town is not needed…

      In response to plywood who said:

      Density, density, density.

      How about 6 levels of housing over 10 levels of parking? That might work for existing residents. Oh yes, I forgot, more parking, more cars argument. Everyone should sell their car in Hoboken argument.

  4. Boken Pug says:

    The Fabian looks like a great place to see any sort of show.

    The bottom picture, with the ghostly building, is creepy. I suspect that if its built, it will get a tax abatement, and once again, those who pay property taxes will get effed, covering for the added people.

    I agree with plywood – PARKING!!!

  5. MidnightRacer says:

    Check out this old B&W film of the November 6, 1933 veterens’ parade where between time stamp

    1:07 – 1:15, you can see the blinking signs of “The Fabian” on the upper left of the parade

    Can’t believe that many people were in Hoboken back then!


    (video added by admin)

  6. klouche says:

    I lived in Hoboken between 1969 to 1973 (Stevens). My daughter lives there now, so I now visit reasons other than Steven’s events. I would shop in the Shop Rite weekly to feed 24 fraternity brothers. I’m sure it is missed. Had no idea it was the site of that huge live performance theater.

    As for high rises there. Forget it. High rises belong together, perhaps joining those south of Stevens. Leave Washington, Park and Willow as mid-rise. You think Paris would have the same charm with monolithic high rises scattered throughout?

    Hoboken was called the “Naples on Hudson”? LOL funny.

    • truth1 says:

      Yep, lots of immigrants from the Naples area came to Hoboken, Avelino, Bari, and of course a little further away, San Giacomo. By the way, Alfonse Damato’s family is originally from Avelino. My father told me that during the war, there was a 70,000 population in Hoboken. Thanks…I never heard it called “Naples on Hudson”.

      In response to klouche who said:

      I lived in Hoboken between 1969 to 1973 (Stevens). My daughter lives there now, so I now visit reasons other than Steven’s events. I would shop in the Shop Rite weekly to feed 24 fraternity brothers. I’m sure it is missed. Had no idea it was the site of that huge live performance theater.

      As for high rises there. Forget it. High rises belong together, perhaps joining those south of Stevens. Leave Washington, Park and Willow as mid-rise. You think Paris would have the same charm with monolithic high rises scattered throughout?

      Hoboken was called the “Naples on Hudson”? LOL funny.

  7. homeworld says:

    This is the same era that Penn Station and many other local landmarks were torn down for “improvements.”

  8. homeworld says:

    The “Court Street Plaza” project would have been a much greater improvement aesthetically and a better land use than the ugly surface parking lot and strip mall.

  9. notnow says:

    Is that Steve Capiello leading the parade in the clip above..

    Nothing is going to be built there. The owner will not part with this property. It’s a cash cow with relatively low taxes. It will look the exact same way in 20 years. There were already approvals on that site for 300 units or so a while back and nothing ever happened. The only way something will ever happen there is if the City makes it happen.

    It is going to be very hard to get new rateables anywhere in Hoboken in this economy. The sad part is our expenses will keep rising and our waterfront is literally falling apart. Damn Worms keep eating our piers!! If expenses don’t go down, than receivables must go up. Thats just the way it is…. The bad news is the expenses are not going to go down because your not going to beat any of these Unions. I wish the City could collect more tax money from underutilized parcels such as this one. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!! Wishful thinking.

  10. wiskeytango1 says:

    it was so different then.We blended in with all ethnic groups in and around the neighbord.About them empty deposit bottles,i brought to the store,the clerk refused to accept one because it had a dead soldier in it..funny.with all them people in hoboken there was pkg spaces.Saturday the tripe peddler and fruit peddlers would pass by..No need for mom to go to shoprite which wasn’t around then..St Josephs Architect design is German and beautiful..Come a long way,and change is suppose to be for the good..lets hope so.

  11. whineanddineinhob says:

    LMAO…. remembering that “life size” wooden usher by the entrance to the balcony stating “CLOSED NO ADMITTANCE”. Like it really mattered. LOL.

  12. whineanddineinhob says:

    Actually, I think that usher was holing a sign which read “SORRY BALCONY CLOSED. Well, that didn’t matter either.

    • wiskeytango1 says:

      whine . The scratch house didn’t have vending machines..guys would walk the aisles with icecream,popcorn etc..they usually got a beaten..ushers wore boots because the kids use to pee down the aisles.The manager Sam would put u on the stage when the seats were full..many kids went blind..no fire laws inforced
      Fabian was a bit more refined..for 40 to 60cents sure was an upgrade from nits and lice. the city queen had nice hotdogs.we were on a tight budget then..Maybe the old days are now but we dont realize it.

      In response to whineanddineinhob who said:

      Actually, I think that usher was holing a sign which read “SORRY BALCONY CLOSED. Well, that didn’t matter either.

      • whineanddineinhob says:

        Hey whiskey. I vaguely remember seeing a very weathered gray wooden structure next to the bank when I was a real small kid when my mom took me on Washington street. I think mom even referred to it as the scratch house. I know I’ve never been inside it. Only two I’ve been inside were the Fabian and the US.

        In response to wiskeytango1 who said:

        whine . The scratch house didn’t have vending machines..guys would walk the aisles with icecream,popcorn etc..they usually got a beaten..ushers wore boots because the kids use to pee down the aisles.The manager Sam would put u on the stage when the seats were full..many kids went blind..no fire laws inforced
        Fabian was a bit more refined..for 40 to 60cents sure was an upgrade from nits and lice. the city queen had nice hotdogs.we were on a tight budget then..Maybe the old days are now but we dont realize it.

  13. plywood says:

    @ notnow said: “Nothing is going to be built there. The owner will not part with this property. It’s a cash cow with relatively low taxes. It will look the exact same way in 20 years. There were already approvals on that site for 300 units or so a while back and nothing ever happened.”

    Boy I hope you are right. Should for some odd reason they decide to build here, isn’t this a textbook example of “perimeter parking” that was talked about by the administration 10 years ago or so? Cars could come into town and into this lot on Observer Highway and never be on the sidestreets in town. Isn’t that the idea? And what happened to the “perimeter parking” on the west side? Apologies for the reminder.

  14. hobokendave says:

    Put height limits and a required number of parking spaces on whatever is built there. With Walgreen’s coming to town, CVS won’t be missed while construction is going on.

  15. wiskeytango1 says:

    whine your right..at two i was 11..closed down in 1952..next door was a small eatery..they gave u a milk shake for around 20cents.
    little did we know the icecream was missing..funny. We didnt have the money to go to the fabian.there was this big fat kid fat freddie..he had a speical seat knocked two arm rests out for him
    he smelled of cheese..lmao. lots of memories..some stinkey some sweet..now it would cost you over 50 dollars to take kids to a movie.geeee.

    • whineanddineinhob says:

      I think you mis-read my reply wiskey. I replied that the only two theaters I went to were the Fabian and US. Didn’t mean I was 2 yrs. old. In 1952 I was Five.

      In response to wiskeytango1 who said:

      whine your right..at two i was 11..closed down in 1952..next door was a small eatery..they gave u a milk shake for around 20cents.
      little did we know the icecream was missing..funny. We didnt have the money to go to the fabian.there was this big fat kid fat freddie..he had a speical seat knocked two arm rests out for him
      he smelled of cheese..lmao. lots of memories..some stinkey some sweet..now it would cost you over 50 dollars to take kids to a movie.geeee.

  16. Margaret says:

    The end of the time for the Fabian came in the sixties when Hoboken was
    becoming a poor forgotten place. Lice infested the seats and it was dilapadated.
    We have a new one in another location. Netflix will put them out also soon enough!
    Blockbuster has rentals and the service is nice, in a good location! (mid-town)! :) :)

    • homeworld says:

      Blockbuster is going to go out of business well before Clearview Cinemas ever does.[quote comment=”192485″]The end of the time for the Fabian came in the sixties when Hoboken was
      becoming a poor forgotten place. Lice infested the seats and it was dilapadated.
      We have a new one in another location. Netflix will put them out also soon enough!
      Blockbuster has rentals and the service is nice, in a good location! (mid-town)! [/quote]

      • Journey says:

        I agree. I’ve already been to the new movie theater more times than I’ve been to blockbuster in the past 3 years.

        If I want to stay in I have FiOS and a Tivo, why rent anything? I go to the movies to see something on a big screen. I personally will wait till chickflick comes on cable before seeing it in theater, I reserve that for films with special effects.[quote comment=”192501″]Blockbuster is going to go out of business well before Clearview Cinemas ever does.

        [/quote]

      • xyzpdq says:

        I agree. There’s a trend here. First Sam Goody, then Hollywood Video, then Barnes&Noble, so Blockbuster is next. The movie theater is here to stay. Too bad we can’t bring the Fabian back.[quote comment=”192501″]Blockbuster is going to go out of business well before Clearview Cinemas ever does.

        [/quote]

  17. truth1 says:

    The Fabian was really Beautiful in it’s day. It fell due to the economy of the time. For example, Marine View Apts. were difficult to rent back then.

  18. magiccat says:

    anyone remember the hansen family that lived on 75 washington st. nellie and helmut, kids herman harry chris esther sonja

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