Joe Malinconico Paterson Press
PATERSON — The state has awarded a $750,000 historic preservation grant to a city nonprofit group planning to convert the former First Presbyterian Church of Paterson on Main Street into a youth performing arts center.
The Paterson-based New Jersey Community Development Corporation previously secured $800,000 in financing through the state neighborhood revitalization tax credit program for the center, said the group’s executive director, Bob Guarasci.
The group estimates the project will cost about $8.2 million, with the largest portion of the funding — $5.2 million — slated to come from the $130 million worth of state economic redevelopment and growth (ERG) tax credits earmarked for Paterson.
Mayor Andre Sayegh has called the projects using the ERG tax credits –— including the reconstruction of Hinchliffe Stadium and a new visitor center at the Great Falls — crucial to the city’s revitalization.
But progress on the tax credit projects has stalled during the past year, partly because of the coronavirus pandemic. The state Legislature last week voted to extend the deadline for tax credit projects by 18 months, until Dec. 31, 2023.
So far, however, Gov. Phil Murphy, who has been critical of the use of state tax credits in South Jersey, has not signed the extension into law. Murphy’s staff has not responded to multiple messages seeking his intentions on the tax credit deadline extension.
Sayegh, a staunch Murphy backer, said he expects to get the governor’s support for the extension.
“Gov. Murphy has stated repeatedly that ‘as goes Paterson, so goes the state,’” Sayegh said. “Therefore, we are confident the governor will sign the bill, especially since it includes Hinchliffe Stadium, which played a pivotal role in the struggle for civil rights.”