What the serious f? From NJ Monthly:
Forgive Hackensack for feeling overlooked. Torched by the British during the Revolution, the Bergen County seat never flexed the industrial muscle of Paterson, boasted the cultural richness of Newark, or enjoyed the cachet of Montclair. Instead, the city on its namesake river became known as a shopping destination. Its Main Street was the place to buy a dress or a suit. You could also catch a matinee at the Fox or the Oritani.
But the advent of malls—specifically, those in Paramus—spawned a decades-long decline of Hackenack’s urban core. The Franklin Simon and Arnold Constable department stores? Gone. The downtown movie theaters? Gone. The beloved Prozy’s Army-Navy store? A memory. Billy Joel didn’t help by singing, “Who needs a house out in Hackensack? Is that all you get for your money?”—lyrics that dissed a city gone dowdy.
Nowadays, Hackensack is feeling better about itself. A downtown revitalization in recent years has spawned a construction boom hitched to an eyebrow-raising nickname: the Sack.
Enticed by financial incentives from the city, developers are replacing underused or vacant commercial properties, even a parking lot, with luxury rental buildings replete with the amenities young professionals covet: gyms, swimming pools, grilling stations, pet spas, and rooftop decks with Manhattan views. The new buildings—some occupied, others under construction or yet to break ground—comprise more than 3,500 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, which could push the city’s population to 50,000 by 2024. (Currently at 43,856, Hackensack is New Jersey’s 20th most populous municipality.)
“For years, downtown Hackensack sat here, and nothing was happening,” says Bryan Hekemian, chairman of the Main Street Business Alliance, the public-private partnership that is central to the city’s redevelopment. “Well, now it’s Hackensack’s turn. Not just turn, but time.”