A rendering of a restored Hinchliffe Stadium, which will reopen with a capacity of 7,800 — Courtesy: Clark Caton Hinz
By Joshua Burd
A development team has closed on more than $90 million in financing for a project that centers on restoring Paterson’s historic Hinchcliffe Stadium.
BAW Development, which is spearheading the project, said the $94 million package includes a combination of private debt, tax credits and other vehicles, including a $60 million construction loan from Goldman Sachs. Also included is $10 million in equity from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp., U.S. Bank’s tax equity and community development subsidiary, through the New Market Tax Credit and Federal Historic Tax Credit programs.
All financing was managed by BAW’s partner on the redevelopment, RPM Development Group.
“When it comes to a project of this nature, there’s no question that it takes a strong team to put all the pieces in place, and we are extremely thankful for the diverse group of financial partners that came together to fund the reimagination of this historic site,” said Baye Adofo-Wilson, founder of BAW Development. “Given the challenges of the last year, pushing this long-awaited infrastructure project forward required a highly complex, creative financing structure from all parties. The successful closings are a testament to our partners’ belief in the vision for the future of not only Hinchliffe Stadium, but the broader impact it will have for the entire city of Paterson.”
The announcement Friday comes nearly two months after BAW and RPM broke ground at the site, located at Liberty and Maple streets, in a project that will revitalize one of the country’s two remaining former Negro League baseball stadiums. Plans also call for a museum showcasing the Negro League and a restaurant and event space overlooking the city’s iconic Great Falls, along with structured parking, a community recreational center and affordable senior housing directly north of the complex.
Completion is slated for fall 2022.
“We are excited to play a role in this transformative project which will provide much needed affordable housing to seniors, generate quality jobs and revive one of Paterson’s historic gems, providing an incredible amenity that can be shared by the community for decades to come,” said Daniel Alger, managing director and co-head of the Urban Investment Group within Goldman Sachs Asset Management. “This project has raised the bar for public-private collaboration and community development and we could not be happier to be a part it.”
The financing also includes $21 million of New Market Tax Credit allocation from the Community Loan Fund of New Jersey, Consortium America, RBC Community Development and USBCDE, according to a news release. Additionally, the Passaic County Improvement Authority has issued a bond in support of the project that was purchased by Goldman Sachs through its construction loan, which serves as bridge financing for a tax credit under the state’s Economic Redevelopment and Growth program.
U.S. Bank provided capital to the stadium redevelopment as part of its ongoing U.S. Bank Access Commitment initiative, which focuses on supporting businesses owned by people of color, helping individuals and communities of color advance economically and enhancing career opportunities for employees and prospective employees.
“We’re looking for ways to lend, invest and influence capital in ways that advance racial equity, and this project will do that,” said Steve Kramer, senior vice president of U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp. “It will catalyze tourism and spur investment in Paterson, a diverse and underserved community. It will create state-of-the art recreational facilities for Paterson’s youth. And it includes requirements to hire from the local community and award contracts to minority and women-owned small businesses. Those are all important steps in building thriving communities.”
Originally built in 1932, Hinchliffe Stadium once served as home to Negro League teams such as the New York Black Yankees and New York Cubans. Over the decades, the ballpark hosted a mix of athletic and cultural events, including high school sports as well as motorcar racing, boxing tournaments and concerts.
The venue fell into disrepair in the late 1990s and has been largely neglected for the last two decades, leading to the long-awaited redevelopment initiative. The Paterson school district had owned the ballpark since the 1960s, while BAW Development secured a majority stake in the facility earlier this year.
The joint venture touted the project as Paterson’s most ambitious large-scale development in many years. The developers will refurbish and modernize the 7,800-seat stadium through steps such as making it ADA-compliant and improving the field, restrooms, lighting, scoreboard and seating areas.
Meantime, the project’s ground-up components include:
- A 12,000-square-foot restaurant and event space that will pay homage to the professional and high school athletic exploits at Hinchliffe Stadium, as well as related racial issues
- A six-story, affordable senior housing building featuring 75 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units that will be built to achieve a platinum rating on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design scale
- A 5,200-square-foot preschool
- A 314-space structured parking garage
BAW Development estimates the project will create roughly 94 temporary construction jobs, while the completed development will create seven full-time and 30 part-time permanent jobs. At least 30 percent of construction and permanent jobs will be targeted to minority and/or local residents.
Upon completion of the project, Hinchliffe Stadium will become John F. Kennedy High School’s home field for several sports and will also serve the broader community for concerts, festivals, sports camps and other semipro and professional sporting events.
“The Hinchliffe Stadium Neighborhood Restoration Project is a unique project that required a remarkably creative financing strategy. We had to reach deep into the community development toolbox,” RPM Development’s Joe Portelli said. “The way that our 10 partners — four public entities and six private institutions — were able to work with us to navigate various regulations, program rules, and approval timeframes to execute this financing was impressive.
“We have been so focused for so long that it is also easy to forget that they made their commitments during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and a time of great uncertainty. We are especially grateful to the (Phil Murphy) administration for its supports of the project through the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.”