PATERSON, NJ – The project itself, including 138 market rate rental units, first floor retail, a host of amenities, access to public transit, and more speaks for itself, developer Charles Florio said on Thursday. For him, the nearly $40 million effort to revitalize the site where the Paterson Armory stood for decades, the same site that has sat dormant for decades more, is about the Paterson residents that will be put to work building it.
“I’m not here to talk about pretty pictures,” Florio said. “I’m here to talk about real people.”
Dozens of those stood behind him, applauding at various times as Florio, his family, and city officials, led by Mayor Andre Sayegh, officially broke ground on the project that is poised to “transform a neighborhood.”
Sayegh used the event as another opportunity to celebrate Paterson’s history while portending what he believes is an even bright future. The previous building, Sayegh said, welcomed three U.S. Presidents, was the host of countless championship boxing matches, and was the place where the Lou Costello received the prestigious Charlie Chaplin award.
What followed that, Sayegh said, was “four decades of fallow land, an eyesore for way too long.” With shovels in the ground, he added, “we are bringing the armory back.”
Schools sit on both sides of the site, making the effort, Councilman Luis Velez said, one that will not only make student’s travel safer, but also, Florio added, be attractive to teachers who want to live close to where they work.
Council President Flavio Rivera also celebrated the groundbreaking, something made possible by 9-0 vote of the Paterson City Council in 2018 to allow Florio, already known for his efforts to revitalize parts of the First and Fourth Wards, to acquire the land for $3 million.
It was that work in the Ward she has represented since 2012 that Ruby Cotton spoke of Thursday. “Charles didn’t just come to the 4th Ward to revitalize one home, he has revitalized whole blocks,” she said, adding that “he is truly a person here to help.”
Praised for his effort to help move the project through the approval process was Michael Powell, Paterson’s director of economic development. “This is an historic site that will see a new day,” Powell said, pointing to the remnants of the former building that will be used in the new construction.
“Only by coming together will we rebuild the city,” Powell said. “There is more to come.”
Construction is expected to take 18-24 months.