PATERSON, NJ- The site of the former Paterson Armory is set to be transformed into a mixed use development project featuring 138 residential units, 10,000 square feet of retail space, and potential amenities to include a rooftop pool, restaurant with outside terrace, and passive park space, according to a presentation made to the Paterson City Council on Monday.
The proposal by prominent local development firm Florio Enterprises includes buying the site that has sat mostly dormant for decades from the City of Paterson for a cost of $3 million, additional investment that could total as high as $20 million, and will serve as, according to Mayor Andre Sayegh, “an indication of where our city needs to go.”
Sayegh, who has made redevelopment a cornerstone of his nascent administration, told the city council prior to the presentation which included full color renderings of what the project will look like once completed, that while there were two offers to purchase the site Florio’s was “too good to pass up,” while Michael Powell, Acting Director of Economic Development, offered that it mostly closely aligned with the six elements that the city put forward in relation to their vision of the site.
These included, according to Powell, maintaining the building’s historic integrity, providing an adequate timeline for construction, completion of any environmental work required, and several financial factors such as any contributions required from the city, site acquisition price, and financial capacity to complete the ambitious project.
Victor Rodriguez, DRG Architects, and George Wheatle Williams, Principal, Nishuane Group, took turns presenting the details of the project as the city council looked on with Rodriguez saying that the proposal will “celebrate” the original structure by preserving the existing façade and using the arch that still stands as the “gateway” to the mixed use component of the new development.
Williams, who according to his own biography is “passionate about civic engagement and maintains that citizen participation can indeed affect positive change in our communities,” offered that as a “self sustaining development” that will serve as a “catalyst for redevelopment” not just in the adjacent community but also across the city, the plan closely aligns with the city’s Master Plan and 5th Ward Redevelopment Plan, both of which, he said, were developed with public input.
With the presentation over council members took turns praising the proposal. Pointing to the $1.7 billion worth of tax exempt property in the city Councilman Al Abdelaziz called the plan “an opportunity to move forward,” and eliminate the continual need to raise property taxes in the city. While the project is expected to take 18-24 months to complete once construction starts this year, the acquisition of the site not only infuses the sales price into the city’s coffers but also $50,000 in tax revenue immediately.
Councilman Michael Jackson joked that while he usually plays the role of the lone voice of dissent on matters before the body he just couldn’t find anything wrong with the plan which “sets the bar where it needs to be,” hesitating only to offer his desire to see that the project moves forward as proposed and suggestion that the developer may seek ways to offer support to efforts to improve athletic facilities adjacent to School 15.
Councilman William “Bill” McKoy followed Jackson’s comments regarding the sales price of the site with his own by saying that “value is determined by what someone in willing to pay,” before saying that he believed the plan was “outstanding” and one that he hopes will become a “model to be emulated, a new standard of growth and development.”
While Charles Florio sat in the audience silently throughout the presentation he did receive widespread praise from members of the city council including from Councilwoman Ruby Cotton who said his work in the 4th ward has “brought a whole new light to the community,” and that his efforts to rehabilitate formerly abandoned properties “has changed blocks.”
Councilman Flavio Rivera expressed his appreciation for Florio bringing the presentation to the city council, something he said was not required, but showed “respect.” Florio represents, Flavio offered approvingly, “an investor who is doubling down on our city.”
“Bringing this type of project to Paterson will lift the moral of our entire community,” Councilman Luis Velez said. Velez, who represents the ward where the site sits said that he is looking forward to serving as a “full voice for the residents” that will be positively impacted by the development.
Asked following the presentation about the widespread praise his proposal received a smiling Florio told TAPinto Paterson that the support showed “Paterson is coming together.”