Jersey City's latest push to limit the expansion of chain stores in its downtown area received approval from the city's planning board on Tuesday night, sending the proposed ordinance forward to the City Council.
Under the ordinance, just 30 percent of downtown Jersey City’s commercial space would be available for rent by businesses with at least 10 or more properties within 300 miles of the city. Grocery stores would reportedly not be subjected to the proposed changes and some areas of the city’s Waterfront would be exempt.
Mayor Steven Fulop told NJBIZ on Wednesday that ultimately, residents want to live in an area where businesses reflect local diversity and spur creativity.
What Fulop wants to steer clear from is what he says has transpired across the Hudson River in Manhattan.
“Look at New York, it’s just Starbucks after Duane Read after Chipotle after (TGI Fridays),” Fulop said. “What that does is it creates an environment that doesn’t necessarily foster the creative class and foster an interesting place for people to want to live in. We’re trying to make sure that Jersey City stays a desirable place.”
Fulop’s policy already has its fair share of critics who say Jersey City shouldn’t be looking to pick winners and losers.
“The last thing you want to be doing is turning away business,” New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken recently told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the ordinance earlier in the week.
According to the Journal, cities like San Francisco and Nantucket, Massachusetts, have enacted similar ordinances.
“I think that government should be responsible for making sure that a city remains a livable and desirable place,” Fulop said. “This is a big component of it. So I think it’s important that we protect what’s made Jersey City special.”
Fulop added that he doesn’t believe such an ordinance would send the wrong message to chain store businesses that may be considering locations in other parts of the city that wouldn’t be affected.
“Not at all,” Fulop said.
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