A seven-story mixed use luxury complex has been approved for construction at the site of the Paterson Armory.
The Board of Adjustment approved the project on Thursday night. Some in the entourage of prominent developer Charles Florio began to cheer at the meeting when the board, known for voting down big projects, appeared on the verge of greenlighting the project.
Construction will begin in approximately six months, said Florio.
Florio, who purchased the site for $3 million, had to change the design to preserves the semblance of the Paterson Armory by re-creating the iconic archway following a wall collapse last month. He said bricks from the soon-to-be demolished Paterson Armory will be used to construct the new seven-story structure.
The new building will have 138 apartments, on-site parking, amenities like a pool, and a first-floor restaurant, according to information submitted to the Board of Adjustment.
Florio said the project will cost $14-15 million and two years to finish.
The project was approved in a 5-2 vote. Board members Jonathan Hodges and Roger Grier voted against the project due to lack of parking.
Florio is providing 151 parking spaces on the first floor. His traffic engineer, Charles Olivo, said that’s adequate for the project due to prevalence of public transportation.
Olivo also expects lower vehicle ownership rate among the tenants.
The board’s planner Gary Paparozzi argued the project requires 256 parking spaces.
“This is a major concern of mine,” said Hodges. He said Market Street becomes a parking lot during peak hours.
“I live here. When I go home, I may not get a parking space,” said Grier. He suggested reducing the number of apartments to create more parking at the project.
But Florio was opposed to reducing the number of apartments.
“If the units are reduced, the purchase price has to be reduced,” said Florio’s attorney Michael Ruben. He said the city’s sale of the Paterson Armory is contingent on the board approving the project.
“Every night there’s fights about parking,” said Zur Davidi, who owns a rental property at 47 Pennington Street.
Davidi was the sole objector to the project. He repeatedly said he favors the project because it will raise his property’s value, but worried it will create a parking nightmare for his tenants.
Davidi claimed he lived in Paterson for 11 years.
Councilman Luis Velez, who represents the area where the project is located, said Davidi’s testimony is false. He said Davidi lives in Fair Lawn.
“We need to do something at the armory,” said Velez in endorsing the project. “Why the roadblock?”
Velez pointed out successive administrations at City Hall tried to revive the Paterson Armory, but failed.
A massive fire in 2015 damaged much of the building.
“This is going to be a benefit for the whole ward,” said Velez. He said there’s plenty of parking in the area.
Even after Velez’s testimony, the project appeared to lack the needed votes on the board.
“I think it’s an excellent project. That property has been vacant for a longtime. Nothing got off the ground,” said board chairman Gerald Thaxton. His brief speech pushed the project for approval.
Board member Sikandar Khan, who had expressed concerns about parking, decided to vote in favor of the project.
Thaxton, Khan, Joyed Rohim, Jorge Soriano, and Jeffrey Levine voted in favor of the project.
“Think of all the jobs. Jobs were created tonight,” said Florio after the vote. He plans to hire dozens of people to construct the building.
Florio said a one-bedroom apartment will go for $1,300 and a two-bedroom will go for $1,500.
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