A rendering of 24+Half, a planned mixed-use destination for residents and businesses at the site of a historic mill and warehouse complex in Paterson — Courtesy: Blue Onyx Cos.
By Joshua Burd
A developer is moving ahead with a sweeping adaptive reuse plan in Paterson, where it hopes to transform a historic industrial complex into a destination for residents and businesses.
Blue Onyx Cos., which is based in nearby Clifton, announced that it has started site work at 24 ½ Van Houten St., a two-acre site within the city’s Old Great Falls Historic District. It’s among the first steps in a five-year plan to repurpose the property’s seven former mills and warehouses into a modern, mixed-use community hub — known as 24+Half — as it looks to capitalize on the site’s riverfront location and its highway and mass transit access.
The redevelopment will feature roughly 19,000 square feet of residential, commercial, dining and other space, Blue Onyx said. Current plans include:
- Rehabilitated commercial spaces designed to support entrepreneurs, creative makers and startups that will include co-working spaces and shared infrastructure for small businesses
- New construction that will offer a mix of residential spaces, including co-living units in a range of configurations, although an exact number of units was not immediately available
- On-site amenities such as a fitness center, food hall, community theater/event space and public gathering spaces, as well as spaces for private and corporate events
- A distillery and beer garden to occupy one building
- A river walk linking the Great Falls to the bridge crossing at Memorial Drive, and passing through the property, which is being planned by the city.
“Blue Onyx is committed to bringing strong, positive impact to today’s urban landscape by investing in and developing transformative real estate projects. As soon as we saw this property, we saw its potential as a vibrant mixed-use community,” Blue Onyx CEO Levi Kelman said. “We’re excited about creating a catalyst for renewal within this historic neighborhood in a way that celebrates Paterson’s entrepreneurial past while looking forward to a sustainable future.”
The developer acquired the property last December, according to a news release. The firm is now pursuing approvals from a host of entities, including city planners, preservation committees and the National Park Service, and has partnered with global architecture firm HWKN to design the commercial, residential and public spaces.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the site has proximity to interstates 80 and 95 and Route 19, with access to NJ Transit bus and train service. The complex is also two blocks from Paterson’s downtown district and minutes from Passaic County Community College, Berkeley College and William Paterson University.
“I believe 24 ½ Van Houten is a strategic site for unbridled potential,” Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said. “The 24+Half project will help us to move forward with the progression of Paterson, improving quality of life for residents, as we continue to develop and revitalize the area around the Great Falls National Park.”
As part of phase one, Blue Onyx has created what it calls Paterson Beach, a 12,230-square-foot beach environment complete with sand, furniture, food trucks and activities that launched on Sept. 10. The company plans to create a series of activations for prospective tenants and the public, as renovations and new construction take place.
In the meantime, Kelman said he expects 24+Half to bring additional interest to the historic city, which offers incentives under the state Urban Enterprise Zone and federal Opportunity Zone programs, among others.
“Paterson’s legacy as a city that manufactures will be renewed in our 24+Half community that will support today’s entrepreneurs and creators, as we bring together art, commerce, culture and technology, and provide a civic space for the wider community to explore and enjoy,” Kelman said. “By partnering with civic organizations to engage local residents, understand organizations’ needs for activity space, and integrate community-centered events in future programming, together we will build an equitable, sustainable future and economic value for Paterson.”