PATERSON, NJ – The Center City Mall is looking to attract a national supermarket chain to downtown Paterson.
But before the mall can begin marketing national companies, the City Council on Tuesday night must approve a proposed a change in its redevelopment agreement that would increase the limit on store space and allow a possible supermarket to occupy 66,500 square feet at Center City.
A mall manager said the proposed supermarket would not only serve Patersonians who live nearby but also attract folks who work or do business nearby at the county offices and federal government building.
“We’re looking to capture the day-time traffic that doesn’t spend a lot of money here,’’ said Ekaterina Valiotis, director of properties for Alma Realty, the mall’s management company. “They already park in our garage. If we have a supermarket, they can stop there and do their shopping before they leave the city.’’
Valiotis estimated a supermarket at the mall would bring as many as 150 extra jobs to the city and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional sales tax receipts per month.
“It makes sense,’’ said City Councilman Kenneth Morris, chairman of the committee that oversees economic development. “If you know you’re going to be there for jury duty, the next time you bring your shopping list.’’’
At present, Paterson does not have a supermarket run by a national chain within its borders. The last one was a Pathmark that relocated to Elmwood Park, Morris said.
“Paterson has been designated a food desert,’’ Morris said, referring to a federal report issued last year that identified urban areas that lacked sufficient access to inexpensive or healthy foods.
Most of Paterson’s food shopping options are regional chains, like Supremo, Food Basics, or Super Savers, one of which is being built on West Broadway next to the Passaic River as part of the same development as the newly completed Advance Auto Parts store.
Valiotis said she has not begun approaching any national chains about coming to Paterson. She said she wanted to wait until after the city approved the amendment to the development contract.
The supermarket would be located on the mall’s “M” level, she said. It would cover about eight percent of the space at Center City and once it’s open, the mall’s occupancy rate would climb to the high 80 percentiles, she said. Her goal is to have a national supermarket at Center City within a year.
In addition to the space change to accommodate a supermarket, the city council is being asked to approve one other change in the mall’s contract – an increase in the minimum amount that people would have to spend at Center City to have their parking validated without having to pay a fee.