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Atlantic Street Park Downtown Hackensack, N.J.
by Francis Reiner, PP, LLA, DMR Architects, PC, Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.


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This view of Atlantic Street Park in downtown Hackensack, N.J., looks across the cool season Kentucky bluegrass lawn toward the 20' x 32' raised stage. Red maples and Golden Princess spirea shrubs frame the foreground. The main lawn and seating area is 70' x 100', which can accommodate 250 to 300 spectators. The pavers are 'Urbana Stone Natural', and the freestanding seat walls "Belair Wall," both from Belgard. The park lighting is metal halide. The 'Signature' luminaires are atop Phillips/HADCO light poles.


The city of Hackensack, a New Jersey city of nearly 43,000 residents just 12 miles northwest of midtown Manhattan, began a downtown revitalization effort in 2011 to address a lack of community downtown development. Home to the Bergen County government, the daytime population nearly triples during the day, as people come to the city to satisfy various professional and personal needs.

In 2012, the mayor and council adopted the "Rehabilitation Plan for the Downtown Area," a strategic plan to revitalize the downtown district over the next 5 to 10 years. The overall plan encompasses more than 163 acres on 39 city blocks. The Atlantic Street Park project was a part of the city's continuing efforts to revitalize the downtown into a pedestrian friendly, mixed-use downtown. The park, completed in the summer of 2015, was one of the first major successes of the rehabilitation plan.

 

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This day view of the completed Atlantic Street Park and Hackensack Cultural Arts Center is from the roof of the residential development at 94 State Street, with the 400 space municipal parking garage in the background. The night view is from the roof of the municipal parking garage, and shows the residential development project at 94 State Street under construction.



Atlantic Street Park is located in the heart of the city, which connects the Hackensack University Medical Center with the Hackensack waterfront, and is adjacent to Main Street, the major commercial downtown thoroughfare.

Preceding the Downtown Rehabilitation Plan for the Main Street area, the city of Hackensack had purchased an abandoned former Masonic Temple at 102 State Street, adjacent to Atlantic Street Park. The city completed Phase 1 renovations to the building in 2012, and opened the facility as the Cultural Arts Center. The center provides programing for children and seniors, as well as for displays of local artists.

In August 2015, Hackensack passed a bond ordinance in the amount of $1.5 million to convert the upper floor of the Cultural Arts Center into a Performing Arts Center with a 200-seat theater. Design of the Performing Arts Center is currently underway, with construction of the facility expected to be completed in 2016.

 

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Flanking the green space are stained cedar pergola shade structures, 'Crest' steel benches and 'Renaissance' trash receptacles with black power coatings. Cherokee Chief Dogwoods were located behind the wall to provide definition of the space, and to add color in the spring for outdoor performances. The raised stage, like the pathways, is surfaced with 'Urbana' pavers and includes matching ADA ramps to strengthen the symmetry of the performance area.



Municipal Parking Lot to Park
Adjacent to the Cultural Arts Center was an underused municipal surface parking lot. Construction began in 2014 to convert the parking lot into a park--Atlantic Street Park--to support the new Cultural Arts Center and the future Performing Arts Center. In the summer of 2015, to further support the park, the Hackensack Business Improvement District hired a consultant to assist in the creation of a Cultural Arts District around Atlantic Street Park, and for the future Performing Arts Center. Construction of Atlantic Street Park began in 2014 after two failed bids, in part because of concerns from adjacent property owners that a park would attract the homeless and vandalism. Funding for the parking included a $268,000 grant from County Parks and Open Space, plus a $40,000 contribution from the Business Improvement District.

The design of the park includes an outdoor performance stage; benches; seating; display areas for artwork; outdoor chess tables; and a trellis that creates an outdoor room, while providing shade during the spring and summer months.

 

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The plantings for Atlantic Street Park include red maples and 'Green Vase' Japanese zelkova trees, compact Japanese holly, 'Dark Knight' blue and 'Golden Princess' spirea shrubs, and gro-low Fragrant sumac. The inset LED wall lighting is the 'Crescent' series from Evening Star.



The design of the park is multifunctional in that it's a welcome lunch destination for the area's office workers, and a new amenity for residents, particularly for cultural art displays and performances associated with the facility. The park is about three-quarters of an acre and features a 20' x 32' raised stage. The main lawn and seating area is 70' x 100', which can accommodate 250 to 300 spectators. The cedar pergolas were designed to provide a sense of scale and space. The seat walls, which include low-voltage inset lighting, are freestanding Belgard block with footings located at the columns. The stage is elevated to provide better visibility during performances, and includes matching ADA ramps to strengthen the symmetry of the performance area. Landscaped areas with large caliper trees provide a buffer for pedestrians along Atlantic Street.

Across the street from the park is a municipal parking garage to accommodate those driving in to see the indoor and outdoor performances. The park has already been programmed for numerous outdoor movie nights, including "Shakespeare in the Park" and lunchtime concerts.

 

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The Atlantic Street Park project, part of Hackensack's continuing efforts to revitalize the downtown into a pedestrian friendly, mixed-use downtown, was completed in the summer of 2015. Funding for the parking included a $268,000 grant from the County Parks and Open Space Dept., and a $40,000 contribution from the Business Improvement District. The park is a welcome amenity to the adjacent new development of 222 residential units at 94 State Street, the first significant residential project in the downtown in more than 30 years. An additional 382 unit, $100 million project has been approved and is under construction less than two blocks from the park.



Atlantic Street Park is also an amenity to the new development at 94 State Street, the first significant residential project in the downtown in more than 30 years, which was first proposed soon after the conceptual plans for the park were presented to the city. The residential project, which is located next to Atlantic Street Park, was completed in October 2015 and includes 222 residential units with a construction cost of more than $25 million. An additional 382 unit, $100 million project has been approved and is under construction less than two blocks from Atlantic Street Park.







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June 18, 2019, 11:01 pm PDT

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