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!

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33 Comments on "History: The Fabian and Shop Rite"


Member
getz76
6 years 14 days ago

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…

Member
pawzclawz
6 years 14 days ago

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… Read more »

Member
6 years 14 days ago

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… Read more »

Member
pawzclawz
6 years 14 days ago

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… Read more »

Member
wiskeytango1
6 years 14 days ago

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… Read more »

Member
wiskeytango1
6 years 14 days ago

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… Read more »

Member
plywood
6 years 14 days ago

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… Read more »

Member
getz76
6 years 14 days ago

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… Read more »

Member
realstuff
6 years 14 days ago

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….

Member
plywood
6 years 14 days ago

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.

Member
getz76
6 years 14 days ago

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.

Member
Boken Pug
6 years 14 days ago

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!!!

Member
6 years 14 days ago

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)

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