Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fort Lee Takes a Look Within

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fort Lee Takes a Look Within

Article excerpt

FORT LEE -- If the participants in a series of recent focus groups are to be believed, the borough is in the midst of an identity crisis.

"Is it urban, is it a commuter town?" one asked.

"Fort Lee is a pre-city," said another. "Not quite a big city but [it] has energy and diversity like a city."

HarrisonRand, the Guttenberg-based advertising agency that the borough hired for $90,000 in December to lay the groundwork for a potential rebranding campaign, recently published a summary of its findings from the focus groups and workshops it conducted last month.

Borough officials now have to decide whether to authorize an estimated $400,000 in additional spending for an advertising and public relations push to attract new businesses and residents to Fort Lee's newly upgraded Main Street and a number of new housing developments.

According to the report, current Fort Lee residents are "cautiously optimistic" about where the borough is headed, with some welcoming the development that is transforming the downtown district and others worried that the construction is "unbridled."

Meanwhile, residents in neighboring municipalities are more consistently bullish about Fort Lee's transformation.

"There are enough small towns and tightly knit communities all around Fort Lee," the report authors wrote, paraphrasing the people who live outside the borough. "Where Fort Lee has the greatest potential is in becoming more of a new kind of urban center for Bergen County."

Civic leaders and the owners of existing businesses, for their part, expressed concern that Fort Lee is perceived as a predominantly Korean town -- a perception that they said overshadows the borough's larger diversity -- and that the business community does not do enough to market itself.

Rather than provide a prescription for action, the report gives voice to perspectives on a wide array of issues, from the town's greatest asset (its proximity to New York City) to its main commercial competition (shopping districts in Englewood and Edgewater). …

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