An often-overlooked natural gem in one of the Garden State’s most historic cities, Paterson, is a bit closer to getting an innovative visitors center and could take additional steps forward during the next few months.
Late last month, some progress was announced regarding the proposed Alexander Hamilton Center in Paterson. The $24 million facility, to be built where a former steam plant stood across from the cascading waterfall of Great Falls National Park, aims to create a state-of-the-art experience that showcases the unique historical nature of the area.
Despite Paterson’s status as the state’s third-largest city by population, the group behind the Hamilton Center refers to the Great Falls as “the most historic place that virtually no one in America has ever heard of, let alone visited.” The 35-acre park is relatively new; it was established in 2009 under bipartisan legislation signed by then-President Barack Obama.
Governor Phil Murphy’s administration officially earmarked $2 million towards the Hamilton Center, which will come from New Jersey’s $262.2 million allocation of federal COVID-19 recovery funds. Paterson officials say the money will eliminate a financing gap that jeopardized the project, which will also include a $15 million 270-space parking garage with retail space plus an $8 million downtown youth center.
The modern visitors center is the main component of the plan and is slated to sit directly below a statue of Alexander Hamilton, who spearheaded Paterson as a manufacturing city while serving as Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington. The Hamilton Center looks to showcase a variety of interactive exhibits that tell the story of how Paterson helped secure America’s economic independence and spearhead the Industrial Revolution.
The youth center portion of the proposal is slated to be built outside of the park at the intersection Main and Ward streets. The city plans to have the Paterson-based North Jersey Community Development Corporation run that future facility, but a formal construction timeline has not yet been announced.
Per the Paterson Times, the city agreed to a $38 million bond last summer to partially finance the project. Besides the public funding, the local nonprofit group Hamilton Partnership for Paterson has amassed about $11 million in pledged donations towards the endeavor.
Further clarification on the project should emerge in the coming months, as the Passaic County Improvement Authority will be voting on whether to back the project’s debt and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority will be weighing the development’s use of state tax credits.