The sizeable vacant lot on Park Avenue between Summer and Carroll Streets will soon be transformed into an estimated $8 million housing and retail development.
Prominent real estate developer Charles Florio secured approval this week to construct a four-story mixed-use building that will have 5 commercial spaces on the first floor and 48 residential units in the upper floors, according to city records.
Second, third, and fourth floors will each have 7 one-bedroom units and 9 two-bedroom units. The building will have 48 parking spaces behind the first-floor commercial spaces with access to Summer Street. There will be on-site laundry facilities and a community space.
Construction is expected to begin in mid-December weather permitting, said Florio. He expects to have the construction finished in 12 months. There are a number of project Florio’s company JCM Investors is undertaking in Paterson.
“We’re doing our thing the right way. We’re building with quality products. We hire in Paterson; we shop in Paterson; everything we’re doing is in Paterson,” said Florio.
Other Florio projects
This is just the latest project Florio is undertaking in Paterson. For example, he is converting two old warehouses into 68 units of housing on 21st Avenue.
There’s also 54 units being constructed at 203-217 12th Avenue. This broke ground just three weeks ago, he said. There’s another 54 units being constructed at 169-183 16th Avenue.
On the same street, at 61-69 Park Avenue, Florio recently finished construction on 36 apartments and 2 commercial spaces.
“That building was an illegal car wash,” he said of 61-69 Park Avenue. He spent an estimated $5 million to put up the new mixed-use building. That’s not the only illegal operation Florio has shut down. He has driven out drug dealers from his apartment buildings on Auburn Street and Barbour Park by hiring private armed security.
Florio also drove out corrupt three-term mayor Jose “Joey” Torres who was taking from taxpayers. Three public works supervisors went down with the mayor. Torres is scheduled for sentencing in mid-November.
Florio owns hundreds of units in tough parts of Paterson. He has invested in neighborhoods that have been long shunned by big investors. Indeed, so much so that for decades the city has had to offer tax abatements, tax credits, and other inducements to developers to build apartment complexes.
“These are the worst parts of Paterson, right?” remarked Florio, who owns a disproportionate number of units in the crime-ridden 4th Ward. His projects are being funded by private money, without tax abatement or other inducements, he said.
Florio said the proposed $8 million building will provide market rate housing. Many of the big developers, who funded their apartment projects using government incentives, built affordable housing units over the decades that has badly concentrated poverty in the city.
Paterson has one of the highest poverty rates in New Jersey. 29-percent of the city’s 147,000 people live below the poverty line. It also has an unemployment rate twice the state average.
“You need a healthy mix,” said Florio of housing. He receives criticism for building both affordable housing and market rate apartments. If he focuses on affordable housing, he gets called a “poverty pimp;” if he builds market rate housing, he is accused of pushing gentrification, he said.
Florio has often tapped into his pocket to support local groups over the years which has produced a great deal of good will in the Paterson community. For example, he has funded parades and local nonprofits. In 2016, when the city decided not to fund young people’s end of summer recreation event, Florio donated $18,000 saving the annual event from cancellation.
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