By Joshua Burd
A crowd of Paterson residents and community leaders descended on the city’s Great Falls section earlier this month, supporting relief efforts for the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria while showcasing a local after-school music program for students.
Blue Onyx, a locally based development firm, welcomed hundreds to the site of its mixed-use property under construction at 24-1/2 Van Houten St., hosting the community music festival alongside Paterson Music Project. The event included local food trucks, musical performances and family-friendly activities, in the latest gathering at what the developer calls 24+Half since it unveiled its plan to convert the former silk mill factory.
“We have been working with the Paterson Music Project for years now, and it is always a pleasure to join together and host events like this that deliver well-deserved entertainment to the community of Paterson, while bringing further visibility to the pronounced revitalization the region is experiencing,” said Jim Driscoll, senior vice president of development and acquisition at Blue Onyx. “When we think about new developments at Blue Onyx, one of our first and primary considerations is the local community and how our efforts can drive a positive impact for the entire region. This has certainly been the case at 24+Half with the Paterson community, and we’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to continue engaging local residents and uplifting regional businesses and nonprofits — all for a worthwhile cause.”
Paterson Music Project is a program of Wharton Arts that provides tuition-free after-school music program for Paterson students, according to a news release. Participants of the organization performed during the daylong event, as did the Nirvana School of Music and local band EKA Norteña across two stages.
The event also featured face painting, temporary tattoos, games and arts and crafts, supporting relief efforts for the deadly earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria in April as well as the education program. Local vendors Lomo Truck and La Tia Delia — under the guidance of Chef Luckie, a Paterson native and chef at the neighborhood eatery Chloe’s Restaurant & Tapas — provided food and drink for the event.
“PMP was thrilled to partner with Blue Onyx on our end of year celebration festival. Through this partnership, we were not only able to provide our families with a fun performance experience, but we were able to really bring the community together for a great cause,” said Shanna Lin, director of the Paterson Music Project. “We were proud to invite the Turkish students of Nirvana School of Music and EKA Norteña, whose founding members started their music education at PMP, to perform alongside us. We are excited to see the development of 24+Half and looking forward to working with Blue Onyx to engage the local community through the arts.”
Slated for completion in 2025, 24+Half is poised to be a 160,000-square-foot mixed-use destination, bringing a much-needed supply of affordable housing to the Paterson community, according to a news release. The project has enjoyed the support of local leaders such as Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh and Orlando Cruz, president of the Greater Paterson Chamber of Commerce, both of whom attended the music festival.
“As a chamber of commerce, we recognize the transformative power of the arts in our community,” Cruz said. “The Paterson Music Project has not only nurtured talent but has also played a crucial role in cultivating future leaders, instilling discipline, teamwork and creativity in the hearts of our youth. We commend their exceptional efforts in creating a positive impact on the lives of these talented musicians and the broader Paterson community. We would also like to express our heartfelt appreciation to Blue Onyx for graciously providing the venue for this extraordinary event.”
Blue Onyx noted that it’s planning additional events and activities this summer at 24+Half.
“We are grateful to Wharton Arts and the Paterson Chamber of Commerce for their ongoing partnership and support of our meaningful community engagement and development goals, and we look forward to advancing efforts to drive the continued growth of Paterson,” said Levi Kelman, CEO and president of Blue Onyx. “As our team at Blue Onyx maintains a mission of building stronger, more connected communities, the delivery of developments like 24+Half which promote structural, economic and social community building are of notable importance.”