An aerial view of downtown Paterson
By Joshua Burd
A development team is moving ahead with plans to revive the historic Hinchliffe Stadium site in Paterson, following approval of a $67 million state tax credit for the project.
The state Economic Development Authority on Wednesday announced the subsidy award under the Economic Redevelopment and Growth program, which will support the mixed-use redevelopment by RPM Development LLC and BAW Development LLC. The project is now slated to begin next month, with plans calling for a museum honoring the site’s history as a Negro League baseball stadium and a new stadium and recreational center for the Paterson community, along with affordable housing for seniors and a restaurant and event space.
“The Hinchliffe Stadium redevelopment is an exciting project that will have a significant impact in Paterson and provide a valuable economic boost for New Jersey at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt our economy,” said Tim Sullivan, the EDA’s chief executive. “This project will create jobs, provide much-needed affordable housing for seniors, and bring valuable community assets to Paterson.
“Furthermore, rehabilitating a historic landmark that was the site of major accomplishments by Black athletes will send an important message that New Jersey values our diverse residents and is committed to supporting and celebrating their achievements. The NJEDA is proud to support this project and we look forward to working with Mayor (Andre) Sayegh to see it through to completion.”
In announcing the award, the authority said the redevelopment will play a central role in addressing challenges in Paterson such as a low median income and an older housing stock. It will also bring new life to what is a National Historic Landmark that hosted two Negro League baseball teams but is vacant and in disrepair.
To that end, the project will include a 7,800-seat stadium and recreational and cultural facility with a museum dedicated to Negro League baseball, the EDA said. Paterson public schools will use the stadium for athletics, graduations and other events, while the event space will host public recreation programs.
The development will also include 75 units of affordable housing for seniors with on-site social services for residents. Nearby, the site will be home to a 12,000-square-foot restaurant and event space and a 315-spot parking garage for residents and visitors.
The EDA noted that the project will create 182 construction jobs and other positions once the stadium, restaurant and event space are open.
“The revitalization of Hinchliffe Stadium is the economic boost Paterson needs as we begin our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to build up our city,” Sayegh said. “Hinchliffe Stadium is an iconic part of Paterson’s history that has been left vacant and in disrepair for too long. I thank the Paterson City Council, Paterson School Board and many other local leaders who have helped move this project forward.
“The NJEDA support approved today will allow us to finally begin the process of restoring this historic site and adapting it to the needs of today’s Paterson residents. I am thrilled the NJEDA Board has chosen to support this project and eagerly anticipate the many benefits this project will bring to Paterson.”
Completion of the project is slated for August 2022, the EDA said. The authority also noted that RPM is a leading developer and manager of affordable housing in New Jersey, while BAW Development CEO Baye Adolfo-Wilson is from Paterson.
Life Management, Inc., a New Jersey-based nonprofit, will provide on-site social services for senior residents.
Per statutory requirements, the ERG tax credit approved by the authority’s board equates to 80 percent of eligible project costs associated with non-parking components and 100 percent of the eligible costs associated with the parking components of the project, according to a news release. Developer fees, acquisition costs and other ineligible expenses are excluded from the calculation of the award, while no tax credits will be distributed until the EDA certifies successful completion of the project.
In addition to the ERG award approved Wednesday, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and the Department of Community Affairs have committed funding to support the redevelopment, the news release. The project has also received funding from the city of Paterson and private investors.
Wednesday’s announcement came alongside praise from other public officials and stakeholders.
State Sen. Nellie Pou:
“The resurrection of Hinchliffe Stadium is not just about an historic ballpark, but about uplifting a neighborhood in a city that is making strides toward its own revitalization. While it has been tragic to see Hinchliffe fall into disrepair over these many years, today we imagine a new Hinchliffe that will not only look back at the sacrifice and endurance of such players as Paterson’s own Larry Doby, but will one day provide an opportunity for future boys and girls who can be inspired by its very existence toward their own unique greatness. This ERG award will nurture the future of Hinchliffe Stadium, and its surrounding neighborhood, so that together they will once again become a vibrant part of Paterson, a sorely needed recreational asset for its young people, and a source of renewal for the entire city for many years to come.”
Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter:
“I’m extremely excited for the Hinchcliffe Stadium redevelopment project in Paterson. The city, as well as the State of New Jersey, will benefit from the economic stimulus this type of grand scale revitalization will provide. The Paterson community has been hit hard during COVID-19. This project will play a pivotal role in helping families and businesses rebuild stronger post-pandemic.”
Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly:
“The Hinchcliffe Stadium revitalization project is great news for the City of Paterson. This all-encompassing project is just the kind that changes a community and helps its citizens grow and thrive. Job creation, a strong economic boost, and safe housing for seniors are more than welcomed, Paterson deserves it. In addition, the cultural impact in honoring the site’s history as a Negro League baseball stadium with a museum, a stadium, and a recreational center for the community will finally recognize Paterson’s esteemed place in sports history.”
Former professional baseball player Dwight Gooden:
“Bringing back this historic stadium will not only have a positive impact on people’s lives, but it will also pay proper tribute to the Negro League legends who played on this field.”
Larry Doby, Jr., son of Larry Doby, a baseball Hall of Famer who was the second Black player in Major League Baseball:
“Paterson is a magical place for me and my family. My hope is that other Patersonians can excel on this hallowed ground just like my father did.”