November 10, 2017

Opening of Park Cork PlazaOn Thursday, November 9, NJCDC held a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the opening of Park Corner Plaza. The $4 million building--NJCDC's first mixed-use real estate development project--replaced an abandoned, fire-damaged building, which was torn down exactly four years to the day. Situated on a highly visible site at the gateway to Paterson's historic district and the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, the new building includes 2,800 square feet of prime retail space and eleven new units of affordable housing.

Opening of Park Cork PlazaMore than one hundred guests gathered to celebrate this achievement and recognize the significant partners and funders who helped make this project possible. NJCDC's CEO Bob Guarasci kicked off the event by reflecting on the transformation of this high-profile corner. He said, "Some of you remember what this corner looked like just five years ago...the two buildings that stood here really epitomized the phrase 'urban blight.' NJCDC has long worked to revitalize this entire corridor and we knew that something had to be done. We are body and soul committed to the revitalization of this entire neighborhood."

Opening of Park Cork PlazaPaterson Mayor Jane Williams-Warren, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs' Director of Housing & Community Resources Janel Winter, Paterson City Council President Ruby Cotton, Councilmen Luis Velez and Andre Sayegh, and Passaic County Freeholders TJ Best and Assad Akhter each spoke about the importance of public-private partnerships, affordable housing, and the transformation of the area surrounding Paterson's Great Falls--which NJCDC calls the Great Falls Promise Neighborhood.

Opening of Park Cork PlazaPark Corner Plaza resident Silvia Smallwood, who works as an Instructional Aide at the Community Charter School of Paterson (CCSP), spoke passionately about her new apartment, where she lives with her fourteen-year-old son. She said, "I watched them build Park Corner Plaza from the beginning--the building being torn down, the beams going up, the walls going up--but I never thought I'd live here." Silvia learned about Park Corner Plaza from CCSP staff and couldn't believe her luck when she found out her rental application was approved. She even remembers the exact date --July 5--when she received the keys to her apartment.

Silvia said, "My apartment is so wonderful. This place is so quiet, so peaceful, and the neighbors are so kind to me and my son. At the end of the day, I love that when I leave my job I can walk out and go up the street and put my key in my door, and when I go upstairs I'm so comfortably home." Addressing NJCDC CEO Bob Guarasci, she said, "Bob, I know it's not the Super Bowl, but there should be a cheer for you, because you make it happen. I am your biggest cheerleader."

Opening of Park Cork PlazaBob Guarasci thanked the partners and funders who made Park Corner Plaza possible, including the state's Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) program, the US HUD/City of Paterson HOME program, and NRTC investors Thomson Reuters, Prudential, JPMorgan Chase, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Boiling Springs Savings Bank, PNC, and TD Bank. Both PNC and TD also provided project financing.

Following the ceremonial ribbon cutting, guests toured two of the apartments, including Silvia's. The first group of residents signed their leases and received keys to their brand-new apartments over the summer.

Opening of Park Cork PlazaReflecting on the event, Bob Guarasci offered, "The project is a wonderful example of partners coming together to transform urban blight into urban renewal. This was the 12th building we've constructed as we revitalize the area surrounding Paterson's national park--which also has some of the poorest census tracts in the city--and we're as proud of our investment in the people who live here as we are in bricks and mortar."

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