After the collapse of the proposed hotel project at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, the city last year lost $105 million in state tax credits. These funds have been salvaged by the city’s state legislative delegation through a bill signed into law by governor Chris Christie on Monday.
State senator Nellie Pou sponsored legislation late last year in the senate increasing the amount of tax credits the Economic Development Authority (EDA) will be able to award through its Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant (ERGG) Residential Tax Credit program to $823 from $718 million to salvage the tax credits for another project in Paterson.
Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly and assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter introduced a companion bill in the state assembly. The legislation restricts $105 million in tax credits to qualified residential and mixed use parking projects in Paterson. The same amount in tax credit was awarded to Paterson through the defunct Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Program to the nonprofit Medical Missions for Children, developer for the hotel project. A dispute between the hospital and the nonprofit led to the demise of the project last year.
“Infusing these available tax credits into the city will help to advance a number of important economic development projects, and may very well lead to the transformation of Paterson,” said Pou, who works as the city’s business administrator, on Tuesday morning. “This is a huge win for Paterson and everyone who lives and works in this great city.”
Paterson Parking Authority has been eyeing the tax credits for a few of its big projects in the city. Tony Perez, the director of the Paterson Parking Authority, told the City Council in late February about five projects he has planned in the city. He said he had $30 million in tax credits on hand and needed the $105 tax credits to move the projects forward.
Perez wants to leverage every public dollar for three private dollars for the Center City expansion, the Ward Street garage site project, the South Paterson garage close to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center with a a mix of residential and retail, and the lower Market Street project to create residential and parking for the Great Falls area.
“We can transform the city,” said Perez on Tuesday afternoon.
The fifth project is the Madison Avenue project that depends on a possible light rail project.
“We’re putting people to work,” said Wimberly on Tuesday morning. He said salvaging the lost tax credits was a team effort by the city’s state legislative delegation. Senators Stephen Sweeney and Paul Sarlo also sponsored the measure that salvaged the funds for the city.
“The new law will provide the much-needed infusion of funds for many economic development projects the city needs to move forward for its residents,” said Sumter in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
The tax credits will be awarded by the Economic Development Authority (EDA). Developers with projects and plans will have to submit applications to the authority to secure tax credits.
There were some uncertainties about whether the governor would sign the measure into law. For example, when Sumter attempted to secure millions of dollars in extra funding for the city’s school district in the past the governor vetoed the measures.
There was a great deal of work that was done before the bill got to the governor’s desk, said Pou. She testified and lobbied her colleagues to support the measure to salvage the tax credits for the city, she said.
“I was praying the governor would sign it and he did exactly that,” said Pou. She thanked the governor for signing the measure.
Wimberly said the bill was a good one for the governor to sign because of the jobs it will create for New Jerseyans.
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This report was updated with comments from Perez and Sumter at about 5:30 p.m. on May 2nd, 2017.