PATERSON, NJ - A bevy of professionals, including an architect, parking expert, and planner descended on Paterson City Hall Thursday to present a plan by local redevelopment “pioneer” Charles Florio to construct a five-story, 79 unit building on Cedar Street.

The project, it was noted, would be constructed on what is a decades long vacant lot where an industrial company once stood.

Saying it would “change the area,” Andy Reid spoke on behalf of JCM Investors urging the Paterson Board of Adjustment to approve the project, despite the variances being requested. In addition to several safety features the  project will “enhance values of the surrounding area and eliminate blight,” Reid added.

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It was the request to allow the project to proceed, despite a shortfall of 75 parking spaces, that caught the ire of board member Lee Mondelli. Under accepted standards, based on the scope of the project, the developer would be required to provide 149 parking spaces, the plan being considered offered 74.

After a short recess during which Florio’s team gathered to consider a request from Mondelli, Reid was back at the podium to confirm that they would indeed reduce the size of the project by eliminating one floor, and 20 units reducing the shortfall in parking spaces to just 36.

Asked after the meeting about what seemed like a quick resolution to the matter Florio told TAPinto Paterson that it showed “we care what the community thinks.”

“We want to reduce the resident’s burden,” he said. “We want to eliminate blight.”

Even with the concession, however, some board members, including Commissioner Gee Grier, weren’t quite ready to issue their vote of approval. A motion by Grier to force the applicant to reappear at a future meeting to present the necessary changes to the plan was set to proceed to roll call when City Council President Martiza Davila, who appeared at the meeting and clarified that she was speaking as a resident in the neighborhood where the project is proposed, stepped in.

Later clarifying to TAPinto Paterson that he was referring to the Hinchliffe Stadium project, Grier offered that his desire to see updated plans wasn’t dissimilar to Davila’s assertion that she couldn’t support Mayor Andre Sayegh’s proposed developer without what she considers the relevant details.

“You should trust us enough to do our jobs,” Grier said. “We have to get this right.”

Davila shot back that the scenarios weren’t comparable, and shared her belief that when it comes to Hinchliffe the council “had nothing,” while the experts in the room Thursday should have been enough for the board members to make a decision on the Cedar Street project.

“This is we want to see throughout Paterson,” Davila concluded, backed up by 5th Ward Councilman Luis Velez who was also in attendance and said that the opportunity to eliminate the safety hazards that come from having the site sitting vacant was reason enough to move forward quickly.

With tensions tempered down Grier’s motion failed and was followed, after another short recess, by an affirmative vote of 6-1 to allow the project to proceed with the agreed upon amendments.

Leaving the room after the vote Florio offered his hope that the project would break ground within four months and have a construction timeline of 12-18 months.

“We want to put Paterson residents to work,” Florio said.  

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