Urban Fold

Arcane Liquor Laws Arrest Rejuvenation of New Jersey Towns

Heather Haddon examines the effect that the Garden State's prohibition-era liquor laws, which restrict the number of liquor licenses per town, are having on efforts to revitalize small downtowns across New Jersey.

"Having a decent bar, it turns out, is helpful to reviving small downtowns, development experts say." However state laws in New Jersey cap the amount of liquor licenses per town according to population. And for towns who have yet to enjoy significant population growth, limits on liquor licenses can keep the redevelopment party from ever getting started, reports Haddon.

"In a state making efforts to reverse decades of sprawling suburban development, a shortage of liquor licenses has emerged as a hurdle to rejuvenating Main Streets, according to development consultants and planning groups."

"The ramifications have been felt across the state," she adds. "Local officials in Glassboro, N.J., a South Jersey borough of about 18,000 people, said their $300 million public-private downtown development plan has been set back because it only has seven liquor licenses, with one changing hands recently for $700,000, said Joe Brigandi, the borough administrator. It has made it difficult to attract a new downtown restaurant, he said."

"Meanwhile, cities such as New Brunswick, which has a glut of licenses grandfathered in, have created vibrant Main Streets, in part because there are more and cheaper liquor licenses."

Full Story: Town Centers Seek Another Shot at a Bar

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