The Plattsburgh Common Council chambers were filled Thursday evening with residents curious to see the developer of the Durkee Street parking lot provide updated redevelopment plans.
The Durkee Street parking lot is a 3.4-acre area in downtown Plattsburgh that is a focus of the $10 million Downtown Redevelopment Initiative grant awarded to the city in 2016. A plan from Prime Companies of Cohoes was chosen and in January initial renderings for a mixed use development were presented.
A resolution to approve revised plans was before common councilors Thursday. Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read emphasized that their action merely allows the project to move to the permitting process. “We want to be assured at this point that what Prime originally proposed is consistent with what they still propose. Our responsibility is to make sure that what we agreed to a few months ago is being met now. This is just the beginning of a process through the Planning and Zoning Board.”
During the public comment session a number of residents were critical of the process.
“Hi my name is Sylvie Beaudreau. I’m a Professor of History at SUNY Plattsburgh. Where is your process? Where is your public input? Because it appears to us that you’re about to vote on a new plan for the Durkee Street lot without having any mechanism for any kind of public input.”
“My name is Jonathan Schneiderman, small business owner downtown 15 years. It concerns me that the new iteration of the plans are coming out today and the council’s going to vote on them today when the public is just getting to see them today.”
“My name is Joan Jansen. I have a PhD in hospitality and tourism. I am concerned because like other members of the public I feel to a certain extent you have made decisions which are being forced upon us.”
Following initial public comments Prime Vice President Todd Curley outlined modifications to the Durkee Street design. “Since we were last before the public back in January we’ve been trying to address the comments to the best of our ability. Obviously parking’s a critical item for everybody and we’ve been able to really substantially increase parking both on-site and off the site for both private and public use. We’ve been able to increase the connectability between the new developments in the Arts Park going down to Saranac River as well as also increase green space. So increasing parking, increased green space and increased pedestrian access on the site were some critical items that we’re able to do.”
Common councilors, including Democrats Elizabeth Gibbs, Mike Kelly and Rachelle Armstrong, were pleased with the changes.
“You have addressed parking, green space, pedestrian access. You’ve done all the things that along the way all of our constituents have been exceptionally concerned about.”
“The critical need in this city is growth and this project to me is just perfect.”
“It would be a catalytic infusion of money and investment in our community that would lead to other kinds of investments.”
But residents weren’t impressed as Jonathan Schneiderman summarized their reaction. “I couldn’t agree more we need growth downtown absolutely. Build it and they will come. It’s a great soundbite from a great movie. But it’s also risky.”
Common Councilors unanimously approved the resolution allowing the developers to seek permit approvals for the Durkee Street development.