Plattsburgh officials and partners working on the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative project held an open house Wednesday evening to allow the public to review current plans and talk directly with developers.
Developers, city residents and officials met at the Farmers Market pavilion to discuss and scrutinize posters displaying updated renderings for the current DRI redevelopment plans. Community Development Director Matt Miller says while various pieces are discussed during meetings, the open house presents a full picture to the public. “A lot of people are excited about what we’re trying to do. They recognize that it could be a game changer for the city of Plattsburgh to have a development of this size right in downtown and all of the associated streetscapes. And you know some people they do have concerns and you know they’re reasonable. It’s a big change especially with parking. But one of the reasons we wanted to so this was to show people exactly what we’re doing and where the new lots are going to be and try to answer all those questions and allay any fears that they might have.”
Many people who came were curious, but a number were critics of the Durkee Street proposal. New city planner Malana Tamer, who’s been on the job three days, was explaining some of the new parking plans. “This will all be parking here.” But Terry Broderick, who works downtown, doesn’t like it. “I don’t really think they’re hearing what the people who live and work downtown are saying to them because they’re moving forward with plans that the people I speak to are not in favor of. Nobody I speak to including myself is against the DRI or developing downtown. It has to be done. But I just don’t think that the city is hearing its constituents on what really needs to be done.”
City resident Tim Palkovic had hoped that the open house would be more like a formal public meeting. “Well I thought it was going to be a discussion but it was a presentation without any discussion. Just one point of view and it’s going to be sold as public input. It’s going to kill the fledgling businesses. It’s just wrong.”
Prime Companies, the developer of the Durkee Street lot, plans a large apartment and retail building that will displace current parking. CEO Ken Raymond said there have been a number of revisions to the plan based on public input. "We’ve taken great pains to solve all the issues. Every time we’ve come back we’ve tweaked what we’ve gotten from the meeting before and we’re willing to do it again.”
Bradley: “What’s the time frame right now?”
Raymond: “It’s sort of up in the air now. We’re ready to go to the next step with this but we need to get the approvals first. Okay once the approvals are in place we can be in the ground ninety days after that.”
Miller says permitting will move forward after the city completes a Generic Environmental Impact Study. “We anticipate the GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Study) to be completed by December of this year. Then Prime can move forward with formal approval from the various boards who are required to review the project. That’s the city zoning board, the city planning board. Once those approvals are gained we can move forward with closing on the sale of the property to Prime and they can move forward with bidding out the construction work and actually getting shovels in the ground here. We’re thinking next spring or summer for shovels in the ground.”
Mayor Colin Read says the redevelopment will be a financial boon for the city. “Our impact analysis alone shows that the construction will pump $55 million of direct spending into our downtown and another $34 million of indirect spending. The tax base will expand resulting in more economic activity which will allow us to reduce the taxes on our existing residents and put the city in a much firmer fiscal foundation.”
At 4 p.m. Thursday, a public scoping meeting will be held at City Hall for people to review plans for the GEIS.