Plans sprout for complex in vacant lot

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Members of the Common Council will hear from the downstate real estate firm Kearney Group about their plans for a $16.6 million state-of-the-art apartment complex on West Dominick Street ahead of their meeting tonight.

The project, which Kearney calls Copper City Lofts, is a Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) effort to redevelop the empty lot at 183 W. Dominick St., across from City Hall.

In the proposal given to city officials, Kearney describes the lofts as “an innovative, mixed-income, mixed-use and artist housing development,” to consist of four floors of 68 units “of which 45 will be targeted and have a preference for those involved in artistic or literary activities.”

“All of the lofts will have high ceilings, ten to 11 feet, with oversized windows that help to create an open and bright loft atmosphere. Complimentary of the lofts’ design, the common areas will help the artists collaborate and foster a strong sense of community. (Copper City Lofts) will have a an over-sized lounge ... for events and gatherings,” in addition to “a performance space, equipped with wall mirrors, ballerina bars, rubber flooring, and upgraded soundproofing to accomodate musicians and performing arts tenants,” Kearney’s proposal said.

They continued: “(Copper City Lofts) will also have a maker’s space” for painting and drawing, “work benches” for “fine artist and crafters” as well as “an on-site management office, laundry facilities, a superintendent, an internet cafe, and a rooftop terrace.”

“The artist lofts will be rented to those at or below 60 percent of Oneida County’s area median income,” Kearney’s proposal says. Census.gov estimates the county’s median household income at $51,316, which would put the income cap for the “artist lofts” around $30,000 in 2019 dollars.

The other 23 units will be “rented to those at or above 80 to 110 percent of Oneida County’s (area median income),” according to the proposal.

The developer said that the building will not have its own dedicated parking lot, but that residents would be encouraged to use the Liberty-James parking garage instead.

“... Kearney Group proposes purchasing 183 W. Dominick St for $100,000, of that, $50,000 will be earmarked for lighting improvements and wayfinding signage for the Liberty-James parking garage,” said Kearney.

Under the DRI, the city can spend $500,000 in state money to redevelop the site.

City Hall envisions the development as the residential hub of the growing Downtown Arts District, in light of the planned “four season destination” improvements at the Griffo Green and the expanded REACH Center, also DRI projects.

In the timeline it provided to city officials, Kearney estimates it could complete the design and engineering phases by September of this year, and that construction could wrap by March 2022.

“Through art related festivals and art exhibits, (Copper City Lofts) will help strengthen the Griffo Green Park and downtown Rome as a regional destination,” Kearney’s proposal concluded.

After councilors review the plans, legislation will be drafted to sell the lot to Kearney. The city contracted with Moore Land Surveying earlier this month to update the deed ahead of the sale.

Following that, the project will go through the standard development process, with the Planning Board looking over a site plan review of the project.

The Kearney group has developed downtown, brownfield lots in other New York cities — including Peekskill, Poughkeepsie, and and Beacon — but has never worked as far north as Rome. All of the downstate developments are similarly “mixed-use, mixed-income ... artist housing,” according to Kearney.

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