Sunday, November 23, 2014

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Developer plans $6.7 million downtown Auburn project

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Developer plans $6.7 million downtown Auburn project
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A local developer is planning a $6.7 million revitalization project for downtown Auburn. As YNN's Erin Clarke tells us, while the project is drawing favor from residents, there's mixed opinion on one necessary component.

AUBURN, N.Y. -- It's the gateway to Auburn. Downtown is the business district. But parts of it don't look so. JBJ Real Property wants to change that with a six point seven billion dollar downtown project.

"We're hoping that it creates gentrification in Auburn. We hope that it brings in a new life to the city," said developer, Joe Bartolotta.

Bartolotta's family is vested in the community. They've lived here for years and already developed the Logan Park Lofts. This project would rehab parts of the city's Creative Corridor and the East Hill District.

The plan calls for turning several properties on busy streets in the city into mixed use buildings -- retail on the ground floors and apartments up top. Some sidewalks may even be redone, but to do that the developer is asking for a big agreement.

It's called a Payment in Lieu of Taxes or PILOT program. JBJ Real Property is asking for a 25-year deal.

"When you're doing large scale renovations like that it is a necessary evil to be able to seek certain public assistance," said Bartolotta.

The City's Planning and Economic Development director says that would not exempt the properties built from the tax roll for the entire period. The program is an incentive to get projects going with an initial 100 percent tax exemption followed by 10 percent more paid in taxes each year after. Still some worry that any exemption could hurt the city.

"When there is a tax incentive or a tax abatement or a PILOT program we are affected," said Auburn School Board Vice President, Dia Carabajal.

Supporters of the PILOT said the city would benefit because more people and businesses will move in. Officials are taking all of this into account. One thing was made clear though at Wednesday's public meeting. Without the incentive the project cannot go forward in its current scope.

The project will consist of 32 one and two bedroom loft apartments and several 1000 to 3600 square foot retail spaces

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