By Jessica Cohen
The Times-Herald Record
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William Paladino, CEO of Ellicott Development, received strong support from Port Jervis officials Tuesday night for plans for a new 14,900-square-foot Rite Aid in conjunction with rehabilitation of Pike Plaza.
Although the Rite Aid facade will be concrete, it will look like brick, Paladino said at a public hearing in the Common Council chambers.
The parking lot, now a bare tar desert, will have islands of shrubbery, flowers and trees, as well as new light poles.
The plaza will be more accessible, as the median strip on Pike Street is eliminated, and a traffic light, which Paladino said his company will buy, will be placed at Hammond and Pike streets, allowing four-way access to the plaza.
Trees that block view of the plaza from the road will be replaced by unobtrusive landscaping, Paladino said, because prospective merchant tenants have expressed concerns about plaza visibility.
Mayor Russ Potter said, “I’ve worked with Bill Paladino on this project. It’ll be a boon for the city economy, for aesthetics entering the city, and for employment.”
Fourth Ward resident Kathy Shortell praised the plan and the developer during the public comment period of the hearing.
“Some of us are excited to get going with this project,” Shortell said. “Now we have an investor who’s succeeded through hard economic times. With Burger King construction, he said they’d be flipping burgers in a few weeks, and they were. I have faith in their accomplishment of this project.”
She also noted Ellicott will accommodate the Railroad Preservation Society by coordinating plaza design with the old railroad turntable.
Fourth Ward Councilman Stan Siegel said later that would include color coordination, using railroad maroon. “They’re turning an eyesore into a destination for the tri-state area,” he said.
Paladino said he expects work to begin on the $12-$14 million project in late August, and the plaza will be complete in spring of 2014, when he also expects to have “a good amount of the plaza filled.”
“We need one more big anchor store. Then the little shops will come,” he said. “It will look fresh, new, aesthetically pleasing, like a new plaza.”
As for the challenge of the sorry-looking property, he said later, “Most things we buy look like that when we start. We’ve bought big office buildings that look worse than that.”
At the moment, he said, he has 40-45 construction projects in motion, worth $130 million. He has been doing demolition and construction since he was 15, and his father has been in the business for 35 years.
“When we went on vacation, we looked at plazas along the way, and I would find out years later that my father developed them,” he said.