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Hinchliffe Stadium Renovation Earns Preliminary Approval

Hinchliffe Stadium

A proposal that includes a Hinchliffe Stadium renovation took a step forward Tuesday, when the Paterson City Council gave it a preliminary approval. 

Renovations to Hinchliffe Stadium–a former Negro Leagues ballpark–would be part of a $76.6-million development project that includes apartments, a restaurant, and a 315-space parking garage. Paterson mayor Andre Sayegh has asked the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to earmark for the project a $49 million share of $130 million in previously approved state tax credits for Paterson development initiatives. In order to accommodate the tax credits, however, project backers need the Paterson City Council to approve a reworked Hinchliffe Stadium lease agreement with the facility’s owner, the Paterson school district.

An earlier iteration of the plan struggled to gain traction with the city council, but revisions to the project were unveiled last week as backers of the proposal sought to receive the council’s support. That effort took a step forward on Tuesday, when the Paterson City Council gave preliminary approval. The project is not finalized at this point, as the city council still has to issue a final vote and the economic development authority will ultimately have to sign off on the tax credits request. A public hearing and final city council vote is currently set for September 24. More from the Paterson Press:

The council had rejected the project in a 5-4 vote in June, prompting the developers and Mayor Andre Sayegh to make several changes in the plan. Those revisions included setting aside the 75 apartments that would be built next to the stadium for senior citizens and adding a childcare center on the ground floor of the housing. Officials also removed a provision under which the city council may have been asked to borrow money to help pay for the project.

As a result, two council members who were against the project in June — Maritza Davila and Flavio Rivera — voted in favor of it on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Councilwoman Lilisa Mimms, who was for the project in June, voted against it on Tuesday.

Designated a national landmark because of its role in the segregated Negro baseball leagues of the mid-20th century, Hinchliffe has been closed since the 1990s and has fallen into severe disrepair.

Sayegh said the neglect of Hinchliffe had become “symbolic of what was wrong with our city.” The mayor called the council’s decision “the biggest win” for Hinchliffe in more than 20 years.

Renovations to Hinchliffe Stadium are estimated to account for $31.4 million of the project’s cost, and would put the facility back into working order as a multi-sport venue. Hinchliffe Stadium opened in 1932 and hosted the New York Black Yankees and New York Cubans along the way, but it closed in 1997 and has since fallen into a state of decline. Restoration efforts are notable in that Hinchliffe Stadium is one of the few Negro Leagues ballparks that remains standing.

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