What happened to old Paramus Barnes & Noble? Nonprofit starts new chapter at Rt. 17 site

PARAMUS — The old Barnes & Noble site on Route 17 opened a new chapter on Tuesday. New Concepts for Living, a nonprofit serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, cut the ribbon on its state-of-the-art Achievement Center, about 15 months after the bookstore closed down after a 30-year run.

With staff, clients, family members and local and state officials there to celebrate, New Concepts inaugurated the 81,000 square-foot facility, which is about eight times the size of its former home in Rochelle Park. The building has dedicated space for life skills training, recreation programs, sensory rooms, health and wellness screenings and physical, occupational, behavioral and speech therapy.

CEO Steve Setteducati said the group will now be able to expand services to “many more adults in our state.” The nonprofit plans to renovate the Rochelle Park location and continue serving its communities there.

New Concepts for Living, a provider of comprehensive services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, unveiled its state-of-the-art Achievement Center in Paramus on Tuesday.
New Concepts for Living, a provider of comprehensive services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, unveiled its state-of-the-art Achievement Center in Paramus on Tuesday.

“Every participant will not only be well-cared for but also encouraged to reach his or her greatest potential,” said Setteducati.

For a chain store, the old Barnes & Noble had a dedicated following. Fans celebrated when it reopened on Black Friday at a new location, just up the highway at 634 Route 17 North, near the Fashion Center.

On Tuesday, its history was noted at its former location.

“You may not realize it, but this 81,000 square foot building once housed a Barnes & Noble,” said Dan Mihalinec, New Concepts’ director of facilities, to a packed “town hall” at the new center. Its auditorium was filled with photos of prominent Paramus landmarks including Van Saun County Park and local malls.

“Over the last year, it has undergone a complete transformation,” Milhanec said of the site.

New Concepts provides community residences, day programs and therapeutic and behavioral services for adults 21 and above. Individuals in its day programs and group homes include those with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, brain injuries, fetal alcohol syndrome and rare conditions like Williams, Prader-Willi and Rett syndromes.

The Achievement Center will host three distinct programs for those with low support needs, higher needs and people who are medically fragile, said Setteducati. These three groups will have dedicated sections of the building, something that hadn’t been possible in the smaller Rochelle Park site.

The New Concepts For Living Achievement Center on Route 17. The popular Paramus Barnes & Noble closed on the site about 15 months ago.
The New Concepts For Living Achievement Center on Route 17. The popular Paramus Barnes & Noble closed on the site about 15 months ago.

With the support of the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities, the nonprofit will offer vocational training and physical, occupational and speech therapy. “These offerings make this facility among the largest and most comprehensive programs” in the area for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Setteducati said.

With eight times the space, the group expects to more than triple the amount of people it serves in its first year alone. At Rochelle Park, the nonprofit was able to serve around 80 people in total. There is already a waiting list of 300 people to take part in the new Paramus facility.

Kim Catalfamo, the mother of an 26-year-old adult with cerebral palsy and other conditions, was at the ribbon-cutting. She said the New Concepts staff have always attended to her son Joey’s needs since he started using the group’s programs in August.

“I knew from day one of Joey’s cerebral palsy diagnosis that the more that he is exposed to life, [the more] his life will be his and a happy fulfilled one,” said Catalfamo. “When I found New Concept for Living, I had that gut feeling that they too had that same goal and outlook.”

Laura and Roy Voorhees of Dumont have also found that the New Concepts for Living programs were a blessing for their 28-year-old daughter Savannah, who is part of the medically fragile population. They began bringing her to a day program at the Rochelle Park site in January, finding that the staff were great to work with and paid attention to Savannah’s needs.

In one instance, a staff member noticed Savannah putting her hands in her mouth frequently and later recommended a toy to the family that might help with the issue, said Laura Voorhees. Behaviorists were able to pick up on things about Savannah that other daycares hadn’t before.

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The couple grew to trust the staff, deciding to also bring their daughter to a New Concepts group home for adults in Old Tappan.

Laura Voorhees was happy to hear the new Paramus space would allow for therapies to take place on-site and that there is a space specifically for medically fragile people like her daughter. While Savannah is unable to communicate verbally with them, her parents can tell she’s been having a great time when going to the day program and living in the group home.

“We’re so happy that she transitioned well and she’s happy, so we’re happy,” said Laura.

Stephanie Noda is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @snoda11

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: At closed Barnes & Noble in Paramus NJ, nonprofit starts new chapter

 

 

 

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