PATERSON, NJ - A plan to restore the Hinchliffe Stadium got another public viewing Monday as Mayor Andre Sayegh hosted a town hall type meeting on the project he has continued to champion.
The $70 million proposal presented by Baye Wilson, a Paterson native and one time deputy mayor of economic development for the City of Newark, would offer a complete refurbishment of the historic athletic space, to include 7,800 seats; lights; a playing surface to accommodate a variety of sports including baseball, soccer, and football, as well as six-lane running track; updated concession areas and team spaces; and be handicap accessible.
Other components also include the development of a 300 car parking garage, 65 units of housing, and restaurant/exhibit space.
Wilson said that the project will create 950 construction jobs and 170 permanent jobs, with at least 25 percent of them being for local workers. While it currently calls for the Paterson Public Schools to use the stadium up to 180 days annually efforts will be made to give student athletes "significantly more time" in the facility, Wilson confirmed to TAPinto Paterson.
The meeting, which also featured comments from architect George Hibbs, Clarke Caton Hintz, and Joseph Portelli of the Montclair based RPM Development Group, was first announced by Sayegh just days after the Paterson City Council voted down a lease agreement between the city and the Paterson Board of Education for the stadium, and less than a week before applications are due for the $130 million in Economic Redevelopment & Growth tax credits allotted for local projects.
While the discussion offered less drama than a recent council meeting during which Sayegh and Paterson City Council President Maritza Davila traded barbs over how the project has been presented to the legislative body, and the public, it did feature several questions from residents who appeared to express reservations about the financial arrangement between the city and the developers.
“What’s our return on investment,” Regana Bracey, a longtime, and well recognized, resident asked pointedly, boiling her more complicated question regarding a proposed thirty year tax abatement.
Describing the complicated financials by saying that “the tax credits pay the bills, the tax abatement brings stability in revenue for our investors,” that ultimately fund the work, Wilson also worked to offset concerns regarding the completion of the entirety of the project, not just the revenue generating residential units, by offering a reminder that the receipt of the tax credits is predicated on the all construction being completed by July, 2022.
Paterson’s Director of Economic Development Mike Powell expanded on Wilson’s response saying that the housing becomes taxable, and creates a neighborhood, including more housing, while the parking becomes a revenue source.
Asked whether he believed the meeting had the intended outcome Powell repeated again that what was being presented is “a complicated project that will require a partnership among the Administration, city council, as well as state and local officials,” before offering his opinion that the night was an opportunity to “share, answer questions, and address concerns.”
“That’s what we did tonight.”
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make something big happen, not just for Hinchliffe but for that entire neighborhood,” Powell said. “We can make this project a catalyst to additional investment not just in the Great Falls area but across the city, it’s an opportunity too good to pass up.”
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