From the WSJ:
The town of Harrison, N.J., has long offered its residents a friendly, diverse and safe community; easy access to Newark, Jersey City and Manhattan; and relatively affordable wood-frame houses on quiet streets.
“I just like the general feeling of being able to walk around the streets, talk to people,” says the mayor, James Fife, who moved in 1966 to Harrison, a Hudson County town of about 14,000 people situated across the Passaic River from Newark. “You know your neighbors. It’s a nice little town.”
But the little town is growing. The once-industrial community is in the midst of a major redevelopment, with about 700 new residences as well as hotels and retail establishments opening downtown and construction of a new, $256-million PATH station. The Red Bull Arena, home to a Major League Soccer team, opened in 2010. More housing and retail construction is under way.
Town leaders and developers are optimistic that the changes will revitalize Harrison. Once known as “the beehive of industry,” the town’s population of 14,000 ballooned to 90,000 each workday in the mid-20th century. But after its large manufacturers relocated to other states, the town suffered from decades of neglect, with rising taxes and shrinking services.
“We were left with big, hulking buildings and not too much revenue,” says Mr. Fife, who took over stewardship of the redevelopment projects from his predecessor, Raymond McDonough, who died earlier this year.
The plans have been more than a decade in the making, but were slowed by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the economic recession. “It’s taken a while, but now we seem to be moving in a positive direction,” Mr. Fife says.
Developers say they are drawn by the town’s location along the PATH line, offering residents a quick commute to job hubs in Newark, Jersey City, Hoboken and Manhattan, as well as the existing urban infrastructure.