PATERSON, NJ – It takes a village, as the adage goes, and, on Wednesday local officials led by Irma Gorham, Executive Director of the Paterson Housing Authority, officially broke ground on Riverside Village.
The two-part, $90 million dollar development will bring a total of 246 units of affordable housing, split between townhouses and a 4-story senior citizen building, to the site of the former Riverside Terrace, a 300-unit project that had become known as a haven for drug trafficking. What had stood as the PHA’s oldest development “reached a point where spending money to fix it would be throwing good money after a bad problem,” Gorham said in 2016 when revitalization efforts were first announced.
“It’s been a long journey,” Gorham said. Joined by Mayor Andre Sayegh, Senator Nellie Pou, and several members of the Paterson City Council she added that the morning event held on a very busy construction site was a “celebration of the residents.”
Pointing to the anticipated construction of onsite classrooms, a basketball court, children’s room and a community building, Israel Roizman, the principal of Harris Townhomes Associates, the developer taking on the transformation of the space, was quick to point out to TAPinto Paterson that what they were building was more than “project.” The name village, is appropriate, he indicated, as while he’s responsible for the building and the management, it will be the residents that will “keep it the right place for them.”
Among the crowd also was a number of former, and hopeful future, residents, including Nexaliz Rosales. The lifelong Patersonian reflected that she moved into Riverside Terrace after she had been living in her car because a fire destroyed her former home. She called Riverside Terrace her “safe haven” adding that the resources she was afforded through the City of Paterson and the Paterson Housing Authority “built (her) to be the woman I am today.”
“Having a place to call my home was the first stepping stone to my journey. Affordable housing gave me the ability to raise my child and meet our needs,” the Eastwick College graduate said. “Having a roof over my head gave me the strength I needed. The remarkable outcome brings me joy, to see how far this city has come to help the community.”
After a brief ceremony during which Rosales was given a ceremonial brick to symbolize the construction Mayor Andre Sayegh offered an outstretched hand saying that “Nexaliz and her family, and all the other families that will call Riverside Village home, are why we do what we do every day.”
“What is soon to arise here will transform the neighborhood and improve the quality of life in the area. It is a victory for our city."
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