Report to Brand New Day, Inc.

May 29, 1996


Background and Objectives

The Brand New Day, Inc., a community development corporation, asked Project Community to perform a retail market analysis of the Elizabethport area of Elizabeth, New Jersey. Although part of the city of Elizabeth, historically, Elizabethport has been a separate settlement because of its unique waterfront location. Today, Elizabethport is geographically isolated from the rest of the city by three impenetrable boundaries. To the northeast, it is bounded by the old Singer Sewing Machine factory and railroad lines, to the northwest by the New Jersey Turnpike, and to the southeast by the Arthur Kill waterway. Once a bustling hub, Elizabethport has become one of Elizabeth's most distressed areas. Elizabethport has a rich retail, industrial, and residential history. In the 1950s, when the Singer sewing machine plant was at the height of production, First Street was a bustling residential/retail area serving the local workers. In addition, regional stores such as Levy's Shoes drew crowds from outside the city and county. The closing of the Singer Plant in the late 1960s is symbolic of the withdrawal of many businesses and residents from Elizabethport.

Formed in 1985 as a nonprofit corporation and working in the Elizabethport neighborhood, Brand New Day originally focused its activities on the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing units and in conjunction with the Elizabethport Presbyterian Center, on provision of social services. Brand New Day now wants to expand into the commercial arena. Developing businesses in the Elizabethport area would not only enhance the quality of life for residents in terms of having their needs met locally, it would provide employment opportunities as well.

Brand New Day looked to acquire commercial properties in the areas that need redevelopment. The directors found three potential sites.

  1. 200-206 Second Street, "Magnolia Mini Mall"
    The site is a two-story masonry building with a total of more than 8,000 square feet. The downstairs houses five store units, each of which is approximately 20 feet wide and 45 feet deep. Three of the store fronts are occupied by a laundromat, pizzeria, and second-hand shop. Each of five residential units upstairs contains a small, two-bedroom apartment. Three of the apartments are currently occupied.
    Located in the heart of the neighborhood across Second Street from Pioneer Homes, one of Elizabethport's two public housing developments, the site could support neighborhood retail uses. However, the building has been severely neglected and requires repairs of the roof, basement, facade, plumbing, and electrical system.
  2. "Marina Village"
    This site, a partially vacant block, is the largest location under consideration by Brand New Day. It is approximately 200 by 400 feet, or about 80,000 square feet in size. The block is situated between Front Street, First Street, South Park Street, and Broadway and is occupied primarily by questionable automotive uses. This site is located within the Elizabeth Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ).
  3. 177 First Street, "Commercial Incubator"
    This site is a 10,138 square foot brick building. The first floor makes up three-fourths of the total floor space and is broken up into four store units, each approximately 1,300 square feet. The second and third floor each contains a five-room residential apartment. In the rear of the building is a second detached structure. This 4,200 square foot building has an empty first floor and a small apartment on the second floor.
    This site is also located within the Elizabeth Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ). The building is currently being considered as the potential home of a retail or commercial incubator by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the Elizabeth Development Corporation.

Our mission in Elizabethport was to perform a retail market study that would allow us to tell the Brand New Day organization two things:

  1. what businesses the Elizabethport community needs and,
  2. of those, what stores were most likely to succeed in the area, given the income and spending patterns of the population.
Retail Market Study Model

Our analysis followed a traditional retail market study model1. First, we determined the trade area and performed a physical inventory. Second, we created an instrument to survey residents about their retail needs and current shopping patterns. Third, we gathered information about income and households in order to estimate consumer expenditures. Finally, we researched existing programs, projects, and developments that currently impact retail development in Elizabethport.

Trade Area Determination

Geographically, Elizabethport is easily defined. Three impenetrable boundaries lined the parameters of our research area (see Appendix 1): to the northeast along Trumbull Street the old Singer Sewing Machine factory; to the northwest the New Jersey Turnpike; and to the southeast the Arthur Kill waterway. Elizabeth Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Elizabeth, served as the southwesterly boundary. Because our research area covers roughly fifty blocks, dividing Elizabethport into primary and secondary market areas became necessary. At the outset of our research, determining the physical parameters of the primary neighborhood-the neighborhood that Brand New Day serves-proved to be a difficult task. Elizabethport seemed to be comprised of many overlapping neighborhoods. However, through observations made in the field, consultations with Brand New Day Director Jay Bloom and a meeting with community task force members, the primary market area, area "A", and two secondary market areas, areas "B" and "C", were determined (see Appendix 2).

Census tract boundaries largely correspond to the boundaries of the Elizabethport market areas. The primary trade area-area "A"-is composed of Census Tract 304 and is bounded by Pine and Bond Streets to the northeast, the New Jersey Turnpike to the northwest, the Arthur Kill waterway to the southeast, and Fulton Street to the southwest. Census Tract 303, located in the northeastern section of Elizabethport, is secondary area "B". This area is bounded by the railroad tracks to the northeast, the New Jersey Turnpike to the northwest, Pine and Bond Streets to the southwest, and the Arthur Kill waterway to the southeast. Two Census Block Groups in Census Tract 305, in the southwestern portion of the neighborhood, combine to make up secondary market area "C". Block group 305-1 consists of the neighborhood that is bounded by Second Street, Fulton St., the New Jersey Turnpike and Elizabeth Avenue. Block group 305-2 consists of the residential neighborhood that is bounded by Second Street, Fulton Street, Front Street, and Elizabeth Avenue. It also includes the largely uninhabited industrial area that borders on Front Street, Elizabeth Avenue, and the Arthur Kill waterway.

The residents of the primary and secondary market areas are a mix of African-American, Hispanic, and white non-Hispanic residents (see Table 1). While the primary area has an almost equal distribution of African-American and Hispanic residents, the percentage of African-Americans is highest in the primary area and drops substantially in the secondary areas. Meanwhile, the proportion of Hispanics is large in all of these areas especially in area "C". Although there are single-family detached and attached homes in the Brand New Day neighborhood, many primary market area residents live in Elizabethport's public housing developments, Pioneer Homes, and Miglorie Manor. In the secondary areas, single-family detached and attached homes are the dominant shelter configuration.

Table 1. Elizabethport Demographics
Market Area Total Population Total Households Percent African American Percent Hispanic* Income
Percent of Households with Incomes Less than $10,000 Median Household Income
Primary Area A 5,908 1,648 43.9% 44.6 % 36.5% $16,915
Secondary Area B 3,234 1,022 12.1% 40.2 % 10.4% $25,240
Secondary Area C 2,214 635 9.7% 62.0% 11.0% $33,640
Source: U.S. Census of Population 1990.
* Hispanic residents can be of any race

1See Burchell and Listokin 1978; and Mier 1981.

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