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Visions for downtown Paterson

Friday, March 7, 2003

By EILEEN MARKEY

Herald News



PATERSON - After months of talk, plans for Center City redevelopment are on the mayor's desk.

Downtown Paterson could have a movie theater, sports arena, and hotel complex under proposals for the city-owned site at Ward and Main streets.

Two competing developers will make their pitches to the City Council and the public in the next 30 days.

"They're both very viable. They're both very exciting," Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres said Thursday.

"I've got faith in the council and in the team that is evaluating this that we will be able to work with the talents of whichever developer is chosen," he said.

More than 70 copies of the city's request for proposals for the site were sent to developers and other interested parties starting in October.

Torres said he was not disappointed that only two submitted plans.

"Two is competition," he said.

The project would be privately financed.

R. Berman Development Co. of Trenton suggests building a 3,000-seat sports and entertainment arena, an eight-screen movie theater, 120 to 160 residential units, and a pedestrian walkway linking the county courts to the federal building on Veterans Place and the NJ Transit train station on Memorial Drive.

The plan includes 1,250 to 1,500 parking spaces and 95,200 to 125,200 square feet of retail space. It also includes a six-story, 150,000-square-foot office building that would link to the city's fiber optic communications network.

"This is something that they feel could be very, very beneficial to the people of Paterson and very, very successful," said Henry Williams, a Paterson resident who is a consultant to R. Berman.

Center City Partners of Ridgewood put forward a plan for a 2,500-seat sports and entertainment arena, a 10-screen movie theater, a seven-story hotel, and "pedestrian-friendly" walkways.

The plan includes 2,773 parking spaces, 621,396 square feet of retail space, and a nine-story, 213,803-square-foot office tower.

Nick Tsapatsaris, a partner in the firm, said Center City's location attracted him to the project.

"It's the obvious stellar location of the property. It's certainly the center of downtown," he said. "This has a little bit of everything in it."

The council will hear each developer's pitch in the next month, then name one to organize the project, Torres said.

Once a redevelopment agreement has been executed, work could begin by mid-July, Torres said.

Eileen Markey's e-mail address is markeye@northjersey.com

Copyright © 2003 North Jersey Media Group Inc.

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