A development team is planning a historic rehabilitation and ground-up development project that will bring 74 new apartments to Argus Mill site at Mill and Ellison streets in Paterson, as depicted in this rendering. — Courtesy: Argus Ellison Associates LLC
By Joshua Burd
A joint venture has broken ground in Paterson on a $26 million project that will bring affordable housing and space for a local nonprofit to the site of a historic mill building.
Located at Mill and Ellison streets, the development will include a new ground-up, four-story building with 68 apartments over structured parking, according to a news release. Plans also call for the restoration of the 19th-century Argus Mill property, which will house another six units, as well as programming and office space for the Grandparents Relatives Care Resource Center, or GRCRC, an agency that will provide supportive services to residents.
The partnership behind the project, which includes WinnDevelopment and Paterson natives Owen Tonkins and Daryll Tyson, joined public officials this week to mark the start of construction within the city’s Great Falls Historic District.
“With the support of city and state officials, the Argus Ellison development will showcase that it is possible through strong public-private partnership, historic adaptive reuse and catalytic state financing to meet Paterson’s pressing need for affordable housing,” said David Ginsberg, a vice president with WinnDevelopment. “We’re extremely excited to start work on a development that has been a priority for the city of Paterson for many years and will stimulate economic opportunities for Paterson residents.”
The developers will complete the project using a complex capital stack, including construction and permanent financing from Citi Community Capital, tax-exempt bonds and 4 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credits issued by the New Jersey Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency, according to a news release. The project will also leverage tax credits under the state’s Economic Redevelopment and Growth program, following approval earlier this year by the Economic Development Authority, among other its funding sources.
Officials noted that 54 of the 74 new apartments will be two- and three-bedroom units, creating much-needed space and flexibility for larger families in Paterson. What’s more the development will have units set aside for multigenerational households, including grandparents raising grandchildren.
“The Argus Ellison development project is an example of how public-private partnerships can create innovative infill development that is both equitable and sustainable,” Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said, noting that his administration “championed this project from the outset” and lobbied the state to allocate ERG tax credits and other resources. “Grandparents raising grandchildren is a growing portion of the Paterson population, so I am particularly pleased they are being targeted as future tenants. Also, the fact that the development team involves local Patersonians, makes this project a win-win.”
WinnDevelopment Senior Project Director Laura Manville is leading the effort as a partnership comprising her firm, Tonkins, Tyson and the GRCRC, a longtime presence in Paterson that assists thousands of local grandparents and kinship caregivers. Tonkins and Tyson, who were both born in Paterson, have led successful development projects in Maryland and Georgia while creating opportunities for affordable housing and economic development in their native city.
“Having done major projects in our current hometown of Baltimore, it’s gratifying to come back to the city that we grew up in and be a part of this great and much-needed project,” Tonkins said.
Tyson, for his part, added: “It has taken us three years to make this wonderful project come to fruition. It’s a part of our family legacy.”
All 74 apartments will be eligible for subsidies, with 52 units targeted to families earning below 50 percent of the area median income who hold vouchers from the Paterson Housing Authority, the news release said. The remaining 22 units will be for families earning below 80 percent of AMI.
Other funding sources include a construction loan from Bank of America, which is also providing equity from Low Income Housing and Federal Historic tax credits. New Jersey Community Capital and BlueHub Capital, meantime, are providing a bridge loan in connection with the ERG subsidy, which is also generating equity that has been syndicated by Fallbrook Financial Services Co.
“Argus Mill’s comprehensive redevelopment will preserve and honor the historic and cultural significance of the properties while ensuring the site remains an integral part of the community for years to come,” HMFA Executive Director Melanie Walter said. “As families make their home in this new intergenerational housing, the historic structures, location, and proximity to transportation and Paterson’s Great Falls National Historical Park will create a new generation of memories for residents and ensure the continued cultural relevance of this unique corner of Paterson.”
The project is expected to create 110 construction jobs paid at New Jersey’s prevailing wage, the news release said, adding that qualified Paterson residents and local minority- and women-owned businesses will be the top hiring priority during construction.
“Supporting projects that provide resources to historically marginalized communities is central to Gov. Phil Murphy’s vision for a stronger, fairer recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tim Sullivan, the EDA’s chief executive. “The Argus Ellison development aligns with these goals by providing much-needed affordable housing to Paterson and new programming space for a valuable community nonprofit. The NJEDA is proud to partner with the NJHMFA and Mayor Sayegh to help this important project succeed.”
The project team includes O.A. Peterson as general contractor, Coppa Montalbano Architects as architect and PS&S as the civil engineer. Additionally, Public Archaeology Laboratory Inc. serves as historic consultant and Renaissance Groups will monitor hiring and diversity goals, while Friend and Wenzel is providing local legal counsel and Berman Indictor of is serving as transactional counsel.