Arts & Entertainment

Paterson's Art Factory Approved For Major Renovation, Addition of Trolley System to Transport Visitors

Paterson's Arts Factory Set for a Major Renovation Following Approval by the City's Planning Board. Credits: Steve Lenox
The Site Contains 25 Buildings and 232,000 Square Feet of Space. Credits: Steve Lenox

PATERSON, NJ- The Art Factory on Spruce Street has been approved for a major renovation following a unanimous decision by the City Planning Board on Tuesday.

Currently a venue for co-working artists, studio space, and light industrial work, the expansion would revamp the space into a center for the arts in Paterson.

The plan is to open up the space to every day public use through the addition of boutique shops, galleries, a restaurant, and overnight spaces for members and visiting crew. Additionally, two trolley lines will be constructed through the city to allow for parking off site.

Sign Up for E-News

David Garsia, managing member and partial owner of Great Falls Industrial Park Inc, the company that owns the site, spoke on behalf of the project. “We’re bringing something to Paterson that doesn’t exist here yet.” 

He referred to indoor markets in New York’s SoHo and Chelsea neighborhoods as inspiration for the restructuring.

A number of small boutique shops and art galleries will be installed for the use of local artists and vendors, and the restaurant will be locally operated and make use of food grown in onsite gardens. Additionally, overnight rooms are being added for members of the factory and out-of-town film crews that often come to shoot on the location. 

Initially planned to cost $9 million, the expansion project has already exceeded $12 million and counting. The additional cost, according to the company, has been associated with renovating and preserving the location’s historic buildings. 

The 25-building, 232,000 square foot space is spread over 4.7-acres and was initially constructed in 1840 as a rope factory for the American Hemp Company. From 1850 to the 1950s, The Dolphin Manufacturing Company produced twisted jute carpeting at the site, and in 1978, David Garsia’s father bought the property.

It wasn’t until about 2012 that Garsia fully transitioned the site from a manufacturing space into the Art Factory. Artists from around the area can rent space in the factory to work, use equipment, and meet other artists. Once the expansion is completed, they will also be able to show and sell their work.

Of particular interest to the Planning Board was the proposed trolley system. Due to the lack of on parking on the site, the company was required to provide a viable alternative. 

Two tracks would be laid; an outside and interior loop. The outside loop will travel all around the city, including stops at the Passaic County Administration Building, the train station, and Passaic Community College, while the interior would travel through the downtown as well as out to the Great Falls National Park. Both would travel to the Art Factory and stop at garages owned by the Paterson Parking Authority to provide parking to visitors.

The trolleys would be free to use and operate from about 7am- 6pm every day. Garsia hopes that they would help transform Paterson into the kind of city where people “come for a day like you go to Lambertville or New Hope.” 

The planning board added three conditions before it voted 5-0 in favor of allowing the project.   

First, the company will need to reach an agreement with the Paterson Parking Authority on use of the parking garages on Ellison and Market Streets after operating hours. Garsia stated that he has received informal permission to keep the garages open late in the case of special events, but the board wanted written approval.

Second, the trolley system consisting of two trolleys must be part of the project.

Third, all requirements on Certificates of Occupancy (CO) must be met. This relates to a question of whether each individual vendor/member of the Factory must have their own CO, which has been an ongoing battle between the company and the city. In adding this condition, the Planning Board effectively avoided passing verdict on an issue it felt was outside its purview.

Aside from their conditions, board members praised Garsia and Great Falls Industrial Park for a project they see as putting the city first. “It’s always refreshing to see a return on our investment,” said Vice Chair Dr. Lilisa Mimms who presided over the meeting

With approval, the company can begin finalizing the expansive plans and timetable for site renovation and construction of the trolley. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


‘We Must Not Be Enemies’

May 9, 2018

Dear Editor

I want to take opportunity to congratulate Mayor Elect Andre Sayegh on his awesome election night victory and for running a campaign to unite all Patersonians. His message of “One Paterson” resonated with the electorate. I believe that Paterson's best days are ahead. He will govern the city the same way he campaigned, always putting Paterson and ...

Five Former Salesmen For Morris County Clinical Lab Sentenced For Bribing Doctors In $100 Million Test Referral Scheme

May 18, 2018

NEWARK, N.J. – Five individuals were sentenced today for bribing doctors in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running and elaborate scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Doug Hurley, 38, of Hillsborough, New Jersey, and Kevin Kerekes, 52, of ...

Pascrell Signs Bipartisan Discharge Petition to Force a Vote to Protect Dreamers

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) signed a bipartisan discharge petition to force a long-overdue vote on the House Floor to protect America’s Dreamers.

“Thanks to a cruel act by Donald Trump and inaction by this Republican Congress, Dreamers have been living under a cloud of fear and uncertainty,” said Rep. Pascrell.  “I ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join

I joined in September, ...

Passaic County CASA Recognizes Volunteer Child Advocates at Annual Event

May 11, 2018

WAYNE, NJ- More than 50 staff members, volunteers, and board members from Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) celebrated the impact of CASA volunteers at the organization's Volunteer Appreciation Brunch on April 28, 2018, at Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne. This annual event recognizes Passaic County CASA volunteer advocates and the difference they make in the lives of ...

PayPal CEO says Rutgers grads need to "Help Repair the World"

May 14, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, called on the Class of 2018 to take a stand for social justice as they graduate during a time of unprecedented technological and social change.

He talked about the decision at PayPal to rescind plans to build a global operations center in North Carolina following legislation many considered discriminatory against the ...

Murphy Signs Legislation Championed by Paterson Senator Nellie Pou to Give DREAMers In-state Financial Aid

NEWARK, NJ - Legislation co-sponsored by Paterson's Senator Nellie Pou (D-35) allowing students to apply for state financial aid assistance, joining nine other states nationally to make both tuition and financial aid available to DREAMers, was signed into law on Wednesday by Governor Phil Murphy.

The DREAM Act was a bill created by Congress to allow undocumented immigrants ...

Brownie Troop Donates Cookies to Paterson Military Food Pantry. Joint Effort by Great Falls Rotary and Passaic County Board of Realtors Continues to Thrive

May 19, 2018

Today was such a momentous day in the life of a Rotarian/Realtor and the perfect example of community service and partnerships.

Roger Fields, a fellow realtor and current President of the VFW post in Butler and his wife Joan, when approached by Brownie Troop 96521 Butler-Bloomingdale Service Unit regarding the donation of Girl Scouts cookies immediately provided them with my contact ...