After push back from Totowa section residents over quality-of-life concerns, the developer who is building a structure on Totowa Avenue between Sherman and Wayne Avenues – the site of a liquor store and laundromat that burned down in 2014 – has agreed to exclude the liquor store from his project.
Instead the developer will lease the retail space that was set aside for a liquor store to a general business, confirmed planning board members Nelly Celi and Eddie Gonzalez. The planning board on Wednesday evening approved the developer’s plan to construct a three-story building with two retail spots on the first floor and eight apartments on the second and third floors.
One of the retail spots will be occupied by a laundromat. The second spot was set to be occupied by a liquor store. Gonzalez said the developer, 372 Totowa Avenue, LLC, scrapped plans to house a liquor store after backlash from area residents.
Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman, two-day prior to the planning board’s consideration of the project, came out against the proposed liquor store. The councilman expressed grave concerns at the rebuilding of the liquor store at the location.
Akhtaruzzaman opposed the proposed liquor store arguing it would diminish quality-of-life for his constituents and increase crime on Totowa Avenue.
“The liquor store destroyed the quality of life. We don’t want another liquor store here to destroy the quality-of-life again,” said Akhtaruzzaman on Saturday afternoon. “There’s too many liquors stores in Paterson anyways. This one particularly created a lot of problems when the business was running. After the building burnt down the quality of life improved in that particular area.”
Akhtaruzzaman, who represents the area where the proposed liquor store was to be located, expressed his gratitude to the developer and the planning board for cutting out a potentially troublesome business. “I’m glad the developer and the planning board took the initiative and listened to the concerns of the residents of the area,” he said.
Before Totowa Liquors, the liquor store that was located at 374 Totowa Avenue, was destroyed by fire large crowds of trouble makers hung about late into the night near the establishment, often vandalizing property and impeding traffic on Totowa Avenue.
Gonzalez said the planning board approved the project without the liquor store. He said the developer amended the plan to exclude situating a liquor license in one of the two bottom retail spots.
The developer will demolish the boarded up two-family home that was partially destroyed in fire in 2014 to construct the mixed use building on 366-374 Totowa Avenue.
“The community advocated for not having one [liquor store] there. And their voices were heard loud and clear,” said Gonzalez.