The ceremonial groundbreaking today of a new apartment and mixed-use complex on former Griffiss Air Force Base land was hailed as a step toward enticing some of the thousands of people who work on and near the former installation to become Rome residents.
Bonancio Construction of Saratoga Springs is building two four-story buildings on the site of the former Air Force Building 240 on Route 825 just north of the Stewart’s Shop. It’s called Air City Lofts and will have 84 units of apartments described as upper-level market rate, with ground-floor commercial space. The estimated cost is $20 million.
The schedule is to have them ready for tenants by next fall.
An estimated 6,000 people work on the former base, now known as the Griffiss Business and Technology Park, at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, and the Eastern Air Defense Sector, as well as several spin-off and unrelated businesses. But some employers have said lack of housing options has made recruiting new employees harder.
Bonacio purchased 4.3 acres of land from the Griffiss Local Development Corporation, the organization charged with overseeing redevelopment of the base, closed in 1995.
The site is within walking or biking distance of many Griffiss employers and to many elsewhere in Rome. It’s near the Mohawk Valley Trail, which is planned for extension to as far as the Delta Lake dam, already connects to nearby neighborhoods, and the site is near Rome Free Academy, and the Rome campus of Mohawk Valley Community College.
Bonancio was chosen after the city of Rome and the GLDC sought proposals from developers.
“This is going to be a lifestyle game changer for this park and the city of Rome,” Mayor Jacqueline Izzo said.
Izzo was joined at the groundbreaking by Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. and representatives of other elected officials and regional Empire State Development director Mike Reese.
Empire State Development awarded a state grant of $1.25 million. GLDC work there included demolition of the former B240 building used by the Rome Lab, and an access road to the 25-acre site.
The project is getting local incentives that include exemptions from sales tax on building materials worth $620,000 to $680,000, exemptions from the state mortgage recording tax with $119,310 to $131,241, and a reduction in property taxes worth about $2.4 million over 20 years.
The Oneida County Industrial Development Agency board in August approved a deviation in the length of the property tax reduction from the 10 years normally used under the agency’s housing-incentive policy. The agreement also comes with specific annual tax payments rather than a reduction in the percentage of assessed property value subject to tax as is normally done. For the first four years, there will be no taxes, then the payments escalate from $29,751 in the fifth year then $223,081 in year 20.