The Durkee Street parking lot is a two-and-a-half acre site in downtown Plattsburgh that is the focus of the $10 million Downtown Redevelopment Initiative project and funding the city was awarded in 2016. Project developers are now seeking zoning and planning approvals. Opponents urged the zoning board to reject the plan during Monday’s review.
The Plattsburgh Citizens Coalition held a virtual press conference outlining some of their continuing and new concerns about the Prime Plattsburgh LLC project, which would place a 5-story, 110-unit apartment building on the site. Coalition member John Seidon says the current plans should be rejected and the original concept restored. “What our community is witnessing right now is basically a hijacking of what could be an opportunity of a lifetime. We all want something to happen but the way that this thing is being presented right now is in no spirit of the DRI. What we're being presented now is nothing more than a glorified gated community. And in my opinion of 35 years of redeveloping this downtown this will be catastrophic.”
Ward 2 Democrat and Common Council Budget officer Mike Kelly supports the Prime development plan, saying it will move the city into the future. “Cities that grow and particularly that grow in their center city seem to thrive. Cities that turn their back on their center city and try to live in the past do not survive. Generally speaking there's no growth downtown so what this project would do is kickstart growth downtown.”
During Monday evening’s zoning board meeting representatives for Prime Plattsburgh LLC offered revisions to their application. Whiteman Osterman and Hanna Associate Charles Gottlieb represented Prime. He said a May 4th meeting with the zoning board narrowed down issues and special use criteria for the process and Prime was making a submission to address them. “So we did submit new renderings that show a revisions to the building height as well as the balcony structure and some of the facade along Bridge Street. And it's just another example of how this project is evolving for the better.”
The review of the new plans began with Chair Ron Nolland outlining, or as he put it nit-picking, their submitted building elevations. “Other things that bothered me to start with before I heard about a discrepancy is that some of these buildings and we'll assume the heights were right for a minute because some of them are not….”
That began over an hour of discussion over the resubmitted plans on balcony design and placement, sidewalk width, property lines and parking displacement. Nolland eventually brought up the pandemic. “We're talking about a pandemic with future health issues. We're talking about it with future monetary issues and financing issues and just even the way we interact. I mean to me it makes sense that before we as a board can have a resolution approving findings that they should be looked at and revisited in light of the pandemic.”
The project record will remain open for comments on the new information presented during the meeting. The zoning board plans to review it again in June.
If the zoning board approves the plan it then moves to the planning board.