The biggest city in Passaic county tends to get overlooked when it comes to New Jersey’s development scene, but one Clifton company is looking to put their stamp on Silk City with an ambitious proposal that will transform two acres of industrial buildings into a sprawling mixed-use community.
Late last year, Blue Onyx Companies purchased a cluster of old mill buildings near the Passaic River for $4.2 million. Situated at 24-1/2 Van Houten Street in the city’s Great Falls Historic District, the seven brick structures were built in the late 1700s as a saw and grist mill. They were turned into silk mills during the 1800s and most recently utilized by Fabricolor Manufacturing Corporation, who ran their dye making operations out of the buildings before closing in the early 2000s.
The two-acre site is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and Blue Onyx is working on a five-year master plan to revitalize the complex into a work/live/play environment designed for the 21st century. The firm’s $50 million adaptive reuse proposal envisions a community dubbed 24+Half that would include a mix of 60-100 residential units, amenities, office space, retail areas, and outdoor public space.
Blue Onyx has commissioned New York-based HWKN Architecture to reimagine and repurpose the existing mills and parts of the structures will be redeveloped to support co-working spaces and start-up maker suites. The masterplan also calls for a distillery or beer garden at one of the buildings and other amenity spaces planned include a fitness center, a food hall, a community theater and event space, and public gathering spaces.
The first of those gathering spaces, called “Paterson Beach,” made its debut in September. The 12,230-square foot spot came complete with sand, furniture, food trucks, and activities that will be made permanent as the development moves along.
The development of 24+Half wishes to introduce a new “Riverwalk” that will link the development to the nearby Passaic River greenery. The endeavor looks to create a new pedestrian connection to Great Falls National Park that runs along the property and though the former Colt Gun Mill parcel which, per our reporting, has been slated for greenspace.
“Blue Onyx is committed to bringing strong, positive impact to today’s urban landscape by investing in and developing transformative real estate projects,” said CEO Levi Kelman. “We’re excited about creating a catalyst for renewal within this historic neighborhood in a way that celebrates Paterson’s entrepreneurial past while looking forward to a sustainable future.”
Blue Onyx is preparing to apply to the city’s planning and historic preservation seeking permission to move the scheme forward. The National Park Service also needs to sign off on the plans, as a portion of the property is under their jurisdiction. The company says they expect to gain approval from Paterson’s planning board sometime next year.