Welcome to the Heights Section of Jersey City, NJ



Frequently Asked Questions about
Central Avenue, Jersey City

By Topic

Don't see your question here? Email it to us.

By Question

"Improvement Districts" in General

What in the world is a Special Improvement Distict (SID)?
The Improvement District (whether business, or special, or downtown or some other name) is a model for management of the municipality's commercial corridor. It is authorized by state law (the Pedestrian Mall and Special Improvement District Act, N.J.S.A. 40:56-65, et seq.) to be formed by ordinance in any municipality in New Jersey. The Improvement District provides a mechanism for the businesses and property owners of a community to organize as a single entity, to raise funds for activities that enhance or expand upon municipal services, and through a District Management Corporation, to manage themselves to become a more effective destination for commerce. In the State of New Jersey, municipalities are empowered to create Improvement Districts and to assign District Management Corporations (DMC s) to manage the resulting assessments and to provides enhanced services to those commercial businesses and properties in the defined District. Learn more via NJ's Department of Community Affairs.

As a business and/or commercial property owner, why would I want an SID?
As a stakeholder you share an invested interest in the vitality of the business district. An SID is a vehicle for stakeholders to better protect their investments and help it grow.

As a local resident, how does an SID affect me?
SIDs can benefit local resident in two ways: 1) property value and 2) your "quality of life." As any realtor will tell you, the closer you live to a thriving business district the higher your property value and "quality of life." See our community news for great examples of how the business and neighborhood community can work together.

Are all SIDs the same?
No, all SIDs are not the same. Typically, an SID is initiated by stakeholders (business/ property owners) with the support of the local community and in partnership with municipal government to address the unique needs of that business district. The structure of an SID (goals, membership, Officers, district boundaries, conduct of business, etc.) can vary in both the City Ordinance creating it and organization By-Laws. The most common difference among SID is of course - funding. Budgets vary according to funding sources such as SID tax assessments, grants, and private investments. Compared together, New Jersey SID budgets range from only a few thousand up to a few million dollars.

When was the first SID created in New Jersey? Jersey City?
SIDs became part of the New Jersey landscape in 1984 with the passing of state legislation. The first SID in the State of New Jersey was created in 1985 in the Township of Cranford. Established in 1992, the Central Avenue SID was the first of six SIDs in Jersey City (Journal Square, McGinley Square, Historic Downtown, Jackson Hill Main Street, and Exchange Place). There are about 90 Improvement Districts in the State of New Jersey.

The CASID

What exactly does the word "CASID" mean?
"CASID" is short for "Central Avenue Special Improvement District" which is the official name of the Central Avenue business district. "Central Avenue Special Improvement District Management Corporation" is the name of the business organization on Central Avenue which is commonly referred to as "CASID."

Is the CASID part of Municipal Government/ City of Jersey City?
No. Although the services provided the CASID is often mistaken for municipal government, the CASID is a non-profit 501c(4) organization. The SID program is, however, created by a City Ordinance (Chapter 69, Article II)

Is the CASID a political organization or affiliated with one?
No. The CASID is an independent organization and is not affiliated with any political party.

Why was an SID created on Central Avenue?
Central Avenue is only one of ten major business districts in Jersey City (Journal Square, McGinley Square, Historic Downtown/ Newark Avenue, Monticello Avenue, MLK Drive, West Side Avenue, Route 440, Newport Area, Danforth Avenue/Old Bergen Road, and Ocean Avenue). In today's evolving business environment, municipal government services plays an important roll in the success of the business community. With plenty of competition for limited municipal resources, Central Avenue business/ property owners established an SID in late 1992 to supplement, not substitute, those services. In doing so, the Central Avenue business district became a unified business organization and strong advocate in Jersey City.

How is the CASID funded?
See Funding Structure.

What area is considered the Central Avenue Special Improvement District?
Central Avenue in between North Street and Manhattan Avenue is defined as the Central Avenue Special Improvement District. This area is also described as the Heights business district in between Pershing Field and Washington Park. See Area Map (PDF) .

CASID Members

Who is a member of the CASID?
All commercial property and adjoining business owners within the Central Avenue Special Improvement District (Central Avenue between North St. and Manhattan Avenue) are members of the CASID Management Corporation. All CASID members are stakeholders within the district.

How do I become a member of the CASID?
To become a member of the CASID you must own commercial property or a business within the district.

How many members belong to the CASID?
Due to multiple partners in many Central Avenue commercial property and business ventures, the CASID estimates 450+ members. There are 200 commercial properties, 240 storefronts, within the district plus an estimated 30 second floor offices. Approximately 10% of the commercial properties on Central Avenue are owner occupied.

I own a residential property owner on Central Avenue, am I a member?
No.

What if my business or office is on Central Avenue but it is located on the second floor (or above) of a commercial building, am I still considered a member of the CASID?
Yes, as long as your business is located in a commercial property within the business district you are a member of the CASID organization.

Are there membership fees?
Yes. The SID Assessment collected on each commercial property within the Central Avenue Business District is considered the membership fee. Property owners are obligated to pay the SID tax assessment like any other property tax. Commercial tenants may directly or indirectly incur this fee depending on a prior arrangement with the property owner or lease agreement.

If I want to open a new business on Central Avenue, do I have to register it with the CASID office?
Yes. While there is no legal obligation, you should register with the CASID office so membership benefits can be made available to you as soon as possible.

If I have a business outside the district, can I become a full member of the CASID?
No. To receive the full benefits of a CASID member you must be located inside the district boundaries. However, businesses outside the district can become associate members for a reasonable fee. Associate members do not receive voting powers in Corporation functions but they do enjoy other benefits such as discounts on CASID campaign advertisement programs. To learn more, contact the CASID office.

If I own a commercial property or business within the Central Avenue Business District can I choose NOT to be a member of the CASID, NOT pay the SID Assessment, and, you know, still enjoy the benefits of doing business on Central Avenue?
NO, NO, and NO. Your business does not begin and end at the front door. As stakeholders, each business and commercial property owner on Central Avenue must contribute to, and share in, the responsibility of maintaining the district. Any business or commercial property owner within the district who does not wish to reinvest in the community is welcomed to relocate elsewhere.

Jersey City's Business Curfew

Does Jersey City have a business curfew? Why?
Yes, Jersey City has a business curfew in place. However, it only affects certain areas of the City which are outlined in the Jersey City Code, Chapter 263 - Hours of Retail Businesses. A business curfew exists to address a number of late night concerns including noise, disturbances, crowds of juveniles and other quality of life issues important to local residents. Those who live within the City's neighborhood commercial districts and have to get up early and go to work are especially grateful for this law and the businesses willing to comply.

Does Jersey City's business curfew apply to the Central Avenue business district?
Yes, the business curfew applies to the entire Central Avenue business district (Manhattan Avenue to North Street) in addition to some other streets in the Heights.

How late can a business on Central Avenue remain open?
A business on Central Avenue can remain open until 12:00am the latest. Under Jersey City's business curfew, no restaurant or retail sales establishment shall conduct business between the hours of 12:00am and 5:00am.

Can a business be exempted from the business curfew?
Jersey City's business curfew applies to Retail Sales and Retail Services Businesses and Restaurants within certain areas of the City. Pharmacies and bars in those areas may be exempt. Additionally, business owners may apply to the Director of the Police Department to be exempt from the business curfew law if they meet certain criteria.

Jersey City Sidewalks - Sales/ Cafes/ and Maintenance

What are the laws pertaining to Jersey City Streets and Sidewalks?
Please refer to the Code of Jersey City Chapter 296 "Streets & Sidewalks." There you can find information pertaining to sidewalk cleaning, snow removal, placement of telephones, sidewalk cafes, sidewalk sales, etc.

Are business owners required to maintain their sidewalks?
Yes, municipal laws require business owners to keep their sidewalks clean and presentable. All business owners are asked to clean their sidewalks at least once everyday upon opening for business.

Can a CASID business receive a summons for a dirty sidewalk?
Yes. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the business owner to maintain their own sidewalk. Read the section of the municipal code pertaining to sidewalk maintenance for more details.

Sidewalk Sales - Are businesses free to sell merchandise on Jersey City sidewalks as they please?
No. As per City Code 296 Article V (Commercial Usage), sidewalk sales in Jersey City require a permit. A business within the Central Avenue business district must obtain a sidewalk sale permit from the CASID office. Sidewalk sales are limited to three consecutive days a month and can extend no further then four (4) feet from the storefront. Merchandise is not permitted near curbs. Contact the CASID office to obtain a sidewalk sale permit or for further details.

Sidewalk Cafes - My customers want to dine outside, what do I have to do to obtain a Sidewalk Cafe permit?
You can start by simply filling out an application. Sidewalk Cafe applications can be picked up at the Department of Housing, Economic Development & Commerce (HEDC) and the CASID office. Read Municipal Code 296 Article XII to learn more about Sidewalk Cafes in Jersey City.

Snow removal - Hey my back hurts, who has to shovel my sidewalk after a snowfall?
As per Municipal Code 296 Article 1 (Snow and Ice Removal), every owner, occupant or person having charge of a commercial building or vacant lot shall, in case of a snowfall, clear such snow from the sidewalks and gutters thereof to the extent of one foot outside the curb in front of the building or lot, as well as on the side thereof where the building or lot faces on more than one street, within four hours after the snow has fallen. If the snow has fallen during the night, removal shall be finished within four hours after sunrise.

Central Avenue Garbage and Recycling

What are the laws pertaining to Garbage and Solid Waste in Jersey City?
Please refer to the Code of Jersey City Chapter 287 "Solid Waste." There you can find information pertaining to illegal dumping, disposal of hazardous refuse, food refuse, duties of owners and tenants, etc. For a selection of the portions of the code most relevant to Central Avenue businesses, click here.

Who do I call in Jersey City to assist me in resolving a garbage issue?
The Jersey City Incinerator Authority (JCIA) can assist your needs.

When is Garbage night in Jersey City?
Monday and Thursday nights are garbage nights for the Central Avenue Business District. Garbage can be placed on the curb no earlier then 7 pm. Garbage will be picked up between the hours of 7 pm and 6 am. Click here for Jersey City's Trash & Recycling Collection Schedule.

Recycling night, when is it?
For Central Avenue, recycling can be brought to the curb on Tuesday nights no earlier then 7 pm. Recycling will be picked up between 7 pm and 6 am.

Are businesses required to have a private garbage pickup?
Yes. As per City Code 287-6 (Private disposal of refuse) the City of Jersey City and Waste Management will not pick up bulk garbage or recycling for restaurants or any businesses that produce more than 6 30-gallon containers of garbage or recycling. These businesses must arrange for private garbage pickup.

What should I do to dispose of big items like furniture?
Businesses must call the JCIA at (201) 432-4645 x600 to schedule pickup of large items. These items will NOT be picked up during regular garbage collection.

There is a garbage receptacle in front of my business giving me grief. Can it be removed?
No. If a garbage receptacle was removed every time a business/ property owner made a request then there would not be a single garbage container on the Avenue. Where would litter then go? If garbage is illegally dumped next to your garbage container, please contact the CASID office and the JCIA upon discover (hey, if you initiate the call then most likely you would not be held responsible or receive a summons). People who illegally dump garbage will continue to do so until they punished. Working together, we can catch these social misfits.

Handbills/ Flyer Distribution

What are the laws pertaining to Advertising Material in Jersey City?
Please refer to the relevant excerpts of Chapter 81 Article I (Handbills and Signs) of the municipal code. There you can find information pertaining to posting handbills or signs on public property, placing handbill in or upon vehicles, removal of signs and handbills, etc.

What is the worst that can happen if I place handbills/ flyers on parked cars?
Other then annoying vehicle owners, creating additional litter within the district, and the fact that it is illegal, the business responsible for distributing the handbill will receive a summons from the City of Jersey City. Upon receiving complaints from the community, the CASID will work with city officials to enforce the law.

Hey, I just posted a handbill/ sign on a Central Avenue pole and now it's gone. What happened to it?
That's right, it is gone. Street maintenance staff have strict instructions to immediately dispose of all signs and handbills posted on all Central Avenue streetscape fixtures and public property. The moral of the story is don't waste your money or time littering the Avenue with advertisement material.

Is there a place for the community to display handbills and signs?
Yes. There is a community bulletin board at the center of the business district. All handbills and signs are welcomed there free of charge. Simply bring your flyer/ handbill to the CASID office and it will be taken care of.

Peddlers/ Vendors

What are the laws pertaining to street peddlers and food vendors in Jersey City?
Please refer to municipal code Chapter 245 "PEDDLING, SOLICITING AND CANVASSING" for general information pertaining to peddlers. Section 245-6 specifically prohibits peddlers within the Central Avenue SID. For information pertaining to food vendors ("itinerant catering establishments") please refer to municipal code Chapter 175 "FOOD HANDLING ESTABLISHMENTS." The most pertinent sections of this chapter for Central Avenue businesses can be read here.

Who is considered a street peddler?
According to Chapter 245 of the municipal code, a peddler is "any person, traveling by foot, wagon, automotive vehicle or any other type of conveyance from place to place, from house to house or from street to street, carrying, conveying or transporting goods, wares or merchandise, offering and exposing the same for sale, or making sales and delivering articles to purchasers, or who, without traveling from place to place, shall sell or offer the same for sale from a wagon, automotive vehicle, railroad car or other vehicle or conveyance."

What is the difference between a peddler and a vendor?
According to Chapter 175 of the municipal code, a vendor ("itinerant catering establishment") is "any establishment which prepares food and drink at one location to be transported by motorized vehicles to other locations where the food and drink is sold from such motorized vehicles." In short, a vendor deals with food, while a peddler deals with non-food items.

Are peddlers allowed in the Central Avenue Business District?
No. Whether they have a valid permit or not, NO peddler may sell or offer to sell any goods, wares or merchandise within the areas designated as The Central Avenue Special Improvement District. To read the section of the municipal code that prohibits peddlers in the district, click here.

Are food vendors allowed in the Central Avenue Business District?
Yes, with restrictions. Food vendors most move to a new location every 20 minutes and cannot be located within 300 feet of a restaurant. In practice, this means that they need to operate on the side streets adjacent to Central Avenue, as famous vendors like "George the Hot Dog Guy" have done for years. To read the section of the municipal code regulating the location of food vendors, click here.

What should I do if a street peddler enters my establishment or a food vendor sets up outside?
As a good business person, you should first suggest that the peddler or vendor solicit your customers only if you can take 20% of whatever business they do (hey you have to pay the rent somehow right). Just kidding- all business owners are encouraged to contact the Police Department at (201) 547-5477 and notify the CASID office immediately.

For Local Residents

I have concerns about Central Avenue. Can I speak to someone about them?
Absolutely. The CASID office welcomes all constructive citizen and feedback especially from local residents, neighbors, shoppers, and CASID Members. You can either email the CASID office or call for an appointment.

My Neighborhood Block Association would like to invite the CASID to attend one of our meetings as a guest speaker and address concerns regarding Central Avenue. Is that possible?
Yes. The CASID is always available to address public concerns regarding the Avenue. Please send an email request including you name, the name of the Block Association, time, date, and location of meeting.

Although I'm not a member, I would like to attend a Regular Meeting of the CASID. As a member of the public, am I allowed to do so?
Yes. All Regular Meetings of the CASID are open to the public. You will be given time to speak and allowed to stay as long as you do not disrupt the meeting. Please be sure to call ahead to confirm scheduled meetings as they may become postponed.

I want to make a complaint about a Central Avenue business, who can I contact?
Who you can call depends on the nature of the complaint. If you contact the CASID office, we can further assist you.

Urban Enterprise Zone Program

How does the UEZ benefit consumers & City residents?
Consumers who shop in the Urban Enterprise Zones save money by paying a reduced sales tax. City residents benefit from the program, because funds generated from the sales tax collection are used for capital investments in municipal services for Jersey City's Urban Enterprise Zone areas. For example, UEZ funds helped purchase new police cars, CCTV cameras, and facade improvements. More importantly, the UEZ program creates much needed new jobs for local residents.

After shopping on Central Avenue, I looked at my sales receipt and noticed I was charged the full sales tax amount. Is Central Avenue an Urban Enterprise Zone and all shops are supposed to charge only half the sales tax?

Odds are you were not overcharged. Although Central Avenue is a UEZ, not all shops charge the reduced sales tax. Each business must first register with the Jersey City Urban Enterprise Zone program. For varying reasons, not all businesses qualify and therefore must collect the full sales tax amount. Most Central Avenue businesses registered with the program display a UEZ decal on their windows. Don’t see a UEZ decal? Ask the store manager about the reduced sales tax program. Your inquire may encourage the owner to qualify and register with the UEZ program which can only help you the next time you shop.

I just opened a new business on Central Avenue, can I charge half the sales tax?
No, not until you have registered your business with the UEZ.

How do I register my business with the UEZ?
These benefits will be available on line through the New Jersey Business Action Center as of July 1, 2011 at www.newjerseybusiness.gov. Businesses within the Central Avenue business district can click on the link to determine if they qualify for the program. If you do, you may complete your registration, reporting and sales tax payments on line from your computer.

I have tax questions regarding the UEZ?
Click here to find your answer (Adobe Reader Required).