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Brownfields Reuse Success Stories Paterson Commons - Former Boris Kroll Site


Paterson Commons: Former Boris Kroll Site
Paterson City, Passaic County

The formerly abandoned Boris Kroll Mill in Paterson has been transformed into market-rate rental housing that is hoped to spark urban revitalization. The first phase of redevelopment has created 39 new apartments and 10,000 square feet of retail and office space. These spaces are ready for use and are currently accepting tenant applications. The city block at 20th Avenue and State Street in the “People’s Park” area of Paterson once housed a looming plant which employed many area residents. However, when the owner of the plant declared bankruptcy and ceased plant operation, the site lay vacant for over a decade, becoming an eyesore for the community.

With financial support and enthusiasm from the city and private developers along with state assistance, the area has been given new life. The buildings, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, have retained their beautiful nineteenth century architecture with brick fronts, high ceilings, and grid windows. This redevelopment represents the largest upsurge of new, market-rate housing in Paterson in over twenty years. However, this only the beginning: work has begun on transforming another Boris Kroll building into a new elementary school. Further redevelopment will also provide 150 more rental units and 50,000 square feet of retail and office space.

The plant’s closing triggered the Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA), which requires that an environmental assessment be conducted. However, there was no viable responsible party to conduct such an assessment because the owner had declared bankruptcy.

Site investigation overseen by case manager Joseph Goliszewski revealed two areas of environmental concern: a fuel tank under the sidewalk and pesticide contamination in the northwest building. The fuel tank was left in place with a deed notice and an engineering control to prevent exposure. The road and sidewalk serve as the "cap", a.k.a. engineering control.

The pesticide contamination, the source of which remains unknown, proved more difficult to remedy, as it extended eighteen feet beneath the ground, into the underlying water table. A two-phase deed notice was issued including both an institutional and an engineering control. The site was capped, and at the advice of Technical Coordinator, Chris Lacy, a venting system was installed to protect against any indoor air intrusion. A No Further Action/Covenant Not to Sue letter was issued November 10, 2003 by current case manager, Karen Lesto, who inspected and certified the engineering control. The surrounding groundwater became part of a classification exception area, as the class IIA standards for potable water are not met. Residents are on a municipal water supply.

In April 2000, the site became the first recipient of a Downtown Living Initiative Program Award, which seeks to help cities attract and retain middle-income households, and allow people to rediscover the excitement and convenience of city life. The $1.5 million low-interest loan provided by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), along with a $600,000 contribution from the City of Paterson, funded the conversion of the historic mill into a complex of apartments, stores and offices now known as Paterson Commons. The project is particularly welcome in the city, and local residents and officials believe it illustrates their faith in renewal and the future. Total project costs were estimated to be $3.66 million by the developers Alpert & Alpert. The developer also utilized the Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program for certified historic structures undergoing certified rehabilitation, overseen by the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office. Vice President Joseph Alpert believes that "it was the state's involvement in the project that helped convince the private sector this was a sound investment."1

1"Market-Rate Rentals Coming to Paterson, Bayonne." New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Press Release: April 6, 2000.

The Paterson site after the transformationThe site after the transformation.

Photo of work in progress on the site.
The site during the transformation.