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Community Rental Housing Committee to talk to LeRay project developers

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The Community Rental Housing Program Committee will begin discussions with Jefferson Apartments developer Dawn Homes, Albany.

The committee, which met Wednesday, will start talks on what the project needs in the hopes that a request to the state for funding will be fulfilled. Jefferson Apartments, planned for the town of LeRay, was the third qualified applicant for the committee’s low-interest loans to support apartment construction.

In October, the committee awarded a $3 million loan to COR Development Co., Fayetteville, for its 305-unit Beaver Meadows Apartments in COR’s Towne Center, Route 3, and a $3.74 million loan for Morgan Management, Pittsford, for its 394-unit Morgan Townhouses off Route 202.

Dawn Homes is planning to build its 402 market-rate units over several phases.

“The terms and conditions are flexible,” said James W. Wright, CEO of the Development Authority of the North Country. “We have an obligation to have some conversations with Dawn Homes.”

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council, in its regional plan presented to state decision-makers on Wednesday, includes a request for $4 million for housing projects.

The committee has committed $6.74 million of the $7 million DANC, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency and Jefferson County collected for housing loans.

“In light of the request for state funding in the regional economic development plan, we think it’s appropriate to begin talks with them,” Mr. Wright said.

The economic development leaders expect that returning Fort Drum soldiers from Afghanistan will require 1,035 apartment units; the projects receiving funding so far will lead to 699 units.

“From our perspective, we always wanted all three projects,” he said.

Mr. Wright said the committee members expected all along to return to Dawn Homes and eventually re-evaluate the need after the approved units are built.

“Dawn Homes was ranked, but they were ranked third,” he said. “We only had sufficient money to address two projects. Given our objective of moving ahead in a timely manner and the fact that the state was going to consider the regional plans in December, we decided at the time that it was important to move forward.”

The committee also agreed to give the taxing jurisdictions involved in property tax break negotiations the authority to change the terms of the program’s loans.

“We wanted to provide flexibility to work with the taxing jurisdictions,” Mr. Wright said. “The committee decided we were agreeable to modifying the terms if it will facilitate the process of getting housing built.”

The taxing jurisdictions are working toward agreeable terms for themselves and the developers, he said. They recognize the overarching need for housing.

“As they continue negotiations with COR and Morgan, we want to give assurances to the Army that the community is committed to addressing the housing needs,” Mr. Wright said. “We want to demonstrate to the Army that we have a concentrated, coordinated effort to address the need. It’s an effort that includes the state of new York and we are trying to put as many pieces together as possible.”

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