As in many other communities, the Paterson (N.J.) Housing Authority (PHA) wanted to add to its affordable seniors housing stock as that population increased. With the agency’s own funds, along with low-income housing tax credits and remediation by the city of a contaminated site, the organization issued an RFP challenge.
Pennrose Properties won the chance to transform the site, which had stood vacant for years after iterations as a dye factory (which caused the contamination), a shooting gallery, and a place frequented by drug dealers. “It appealed [to Pennrose] since it was close to downtown, had been zoned for senior housing, and was one of the wards designated to be redeveloped,” says Fred Vazquez, director of modernization and development at the PHA.
A collaboration between Pennrose, the PHA, and architecture firm Wallace Roberts & Todd led to the decision to make the façade contemporary so it would serve as a beacon of hope and a catalyst for development. The architects combined metal facing and fiber-cement lap siding in gray hues that reflect the area’s industrial roots and added a yellow accent. Within the 55,692-square-foot structure, shared spaces provide places for residents to socialize, learn, and stay fit; there’s also a medical office. More color, modern furnishings, big windows, and a fireplace lend an uplifting ambience. A community room commemorates Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit at a church across the street in 1968 days before his assassination.
“[The project’s] success is reflected in its full occupancy, [additional] area-people traffic, and a second phase with 63 more units,” Vazquez says.