By STEVE JONES Staff writer
The Common Council has revised its plans for redeveloping two parcels, intent on giving the city more control of the process.
The council was set to turn over the two parcels — the Rossi Site, on Railroad Street and the former City Hall on North James Street — to non-profit agencies at its Wednesday meeting. Instead, the proposals were scrapped. A special meeting was then held Thursday afternoon, where the council approved sending the redevelopment plans to the Planning Board for review and set public hearings to get residents’ opinions.
The vacant, unnumbered Railroad Street parcel covers 2.6 acres and is assessed for $50,700. The site is at the corner of Railroad Street and Harbor Way, on the opposite side of Harbor Way from the American Alloy Steel building.
The other, Old City Hall at 207 N. James St., saw an uptick in activity this year when the city sought proposals from developers. Three — all with takes on mixed residential-commercial uses — submitted plans. The administration has put a team together to review those proposals, though no choices have been made yet. The team is the in-house Real Property Committee, Mayor Joseph R. Fusco Jr., three members of the Common Council (Kimberly A. Rogers, R-3; Ramona L. Smith, D-4; and Louis J. DiMarco Jr., D-7), as well as a group of citizens who all participate in downtown development groups.
The three proposals under review are from:
¿ Venture Developers of Rome, headed by Steve Olney, who is in the construction business. The proposal is for several commercial spaces on the first floor, including an Irish restaurant, and a boutique hotel in the upper floors.
¿ Stem Development of Camillus, led by native Roman and architect Paul Stemkoski. Then plan, called The Lofts at Old City Hall, focuses on residences, but includes first floor professional office space.
¿ YES Development of Rome, led by renovation specialist Matt Varughese. The proposal is a mix of commercial spaces and loft apartments.
The council’s change in direction came about because state law allows the municipality to transfer property directly to a developer, said Corporation Counsel Timothy A. Benedict. That process allows the city more control over specific projects, including time frames and uses. It does, however, require the city to provide more detailed studies of parcels, but since the city is pushing ahead with Brownfield Opportunity Area activity at such a fast pace, Rome already complies, Benedict noted in praise of the efforts by the Department of Community and Economic Development.
The revised plan for Old City Hall do not currently name the proposed future owner, but that will be filed in once a developer is chosen. The Rossi site would be transferred to MSP, a development group involving Ann Lynch of Rome and out-of-state investors.
At the special meeting Thursday, six of the seven councilors attended, with only Councilor Louis J. DiMarco Jr., D-7, excused.
The first batch of legislation referred the redevelopment and design plans at the Rossi site to the Planning Board, which will likely have a special meeting in July for that purpose. The council also set public hearings for its meeting on Wednesday, July 25. The first hearing will be at 6:40 p.m. on the property transfer. The second will be at 6:55 on the redevelopment plan.
The council also did the same for Old City Hall. The hearings for the transfer and redevelopment plan will be 6:45 and 6:50, respectively.
The approvals of the redevelopment plans and the transfers were tabled until after the public hearings. The council could grant those approvals at the regular meeting July 25, immediately after the hearings.