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Bronx laundry moving to North Bergen, with state help

The Record

A commercial laundry that cleans linen for the restaurant and hotel industry plans to build a $7.3 million facility in North Bergen, adding to one that the company bought in Paterson two years ago.

Prestige Corp., which has 150 New Jersey employees and has laundries in Manhattan, the Bronx and Long Island, said it will create 176 jobs over two years at the laundry proposed for 91st Street in North Bergen.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority on Thursday approved a grant of $844,800 under the state’s Business Employment Incentive Program to help the company close its Bronx laundry and move 46 jobs there to North Bergen.

The company, which calls itself the “single largest hospitality valet and full service commercial laundry” in the tri-state area, has more than 100 customers, among them Hyatt, Starwood Hotels and Mandarin Oriental, according to the EDA.

Prestige, formed in 1996, is the parent company of First Ave. Cleaning Corp. and other subsidiaries. It has about 370 employees, about two-thirds of them union workers, and handles 200,000 pounds of laundry a day, according to its application for the EDA grant.

The family-owned and operated laundry, with customers across the Northeast, said it is looking to build an 80,000- to 100,000-square-foot laundry that will give additional capacity to service customers from Baltimore to Connecticut. The EDA said Prestige also is trying to move into the Virginia market.

The move follows its acquisition of Princeton Laundry, a Paterson business that also cleaned linen for high-end hotels around New York and also moved from the Bronx to New Jersey – with disastrous results.

The 88-year-old, third-generation family-owned Princeton Laundry moved to a 93,000-square-foot building in 2007, bringing 200 jobs with the help of financial incentives, including a $177,000 EDA grant, a $500,000 loan from Paterson‘s Urban Enterprise Zone loan program and $5.5 million in low-interest loans from Zion Bank of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

But Princeton Laundry filed for bankruptcy a year later after a nor’easter and unrelated water and power outages disrupted operations, cutting revenue and prompting customer defections.

Prestige Hospitality Services, LLC, an affiliate of Prestige Corp., subsequently bought Princeton Laundry with EDA help and a loan that closed in August 2009, according to the state agency.

Prestige executives could not be reached for comment.

Deborah Hoffman, Passaic County‘s economic development director, welcomed the EDA’s support for Prestige, saying the company seemed to be very strong when it arrived in Paterson.

“They are like an American success story,” recalled Hoffman, who said the company was founded by a Korean immigrant and is now run by his son, Sang Cho, who has a finance background.

“I was very impressed with him,” she said. “He was really prepared; he really knows what he’s doing.”

E-mail: morley@northjersey.com

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