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Lundy, Buffalo partner looking for further development on Commerce Park Drive

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WATERTOWN — West Carthage developer Michael E. Lundy plans to build on one of the remaining substantial undeveloped properties in Watertown, a venture planned for a multi-tenant business and technology hub off Commerce Park Drive.

Working with a Buffalo-based commercial and retail real estate firm, Mr. Lundy, CEO of Lundy Development Corp. and LUNCO Corp., wants to construct five buildings totaling 100,000 square feet on a 9-acre site, just north of Hampton Inn. He said the property’s owner, Myron M. Hunt Inc., approached him with the project this winter.

It will be built in phases. Plans call for initial construction of a 20,000-square-foot, two-story building that later will connect to a similar structure, Mr. Lundy said. Three other buildings would be added later.

Potential tenants have already expressed interest in the first building, he said, adding that construction could start in the fall and be completed next spring. “It’s an awesome location,” Mr. Lundy said.

He stressed that the site is close to Arsenal and Coffeen streets, Interstate 81, Jefferson Community College and numerous restaurants and retail businesses.

Mr. Lundy met last week with the city’s planning and engineering offices to discuss requisite zoning and other approvals.

The Hunt Company started developing the site about 20 years ago, said Kenneth A. Mix, the city’s planning and community development coordinator. It dates back to Denny’s restaurant and the Days Inn, but also includes the U.S. Postal Service complex, Watertown Dental Group, Northern Federal Credit Union, Watertown Savings Bank and most recently, the Hampton Inn.

The 9-acre site sat vacant while those businesses sprang up around it, Mr. Mix said.

“It’s one of a handful of sites left in the city,” he said.

The other remaining developable properties in the city are City Center Industrial Park off South Bellew Avenue; a 16-acre site in City Center Plaza off Arsenal Street, and the former Cleaves Enterprises land off West Main Street, Mr. Mix said.

Mr. Lundy plans to lure startup and spinoff companies that wish to locate within the city limits. They may be in such fields as computerized manufacturing of components or parts.

“Some people want to stay in the city,” Mr. Lundy said. “Some people want to come to the city.”

The prospective companies will need space ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet in buildings that resemble structures normally seen in an office park. As they begin to grow and require additional space, the companies could relocate to a larger space in the park, Mr. Lundy said.

Mr. Lundy is the developer of the sprawling Washington Summit medical and professional campus along outer Washington Street in the town of Watertown.

In what would be a first for the area, the companies would be allowed to purchase their space, much like what happens with condominiums, Mr. Lundy said. That arrangement might be ideal for companies that may not want to invest in projects themselves.

The developers then would be responsible for building maintenance, snow removal and general care of the property, he said.

The project might need only site plan approval. However, it may also require a zoning process if the developers decide to go through “a planned development district.” That is the approach the Hunt firm used when it developed the other portions of Commerce Park Drive, Mr. Mix said. That process comes into play when a single property is developed for mixed uses.

In a press release, Hunt Company Vice President Andrew Hunt said he decided to partner with Mr. Lundy after hearing about his solid reputation and track record from a broker.

“We felt the best use for the remainder of Commerce Park would be for office development, or business and technology,” Mr. Hunt said.

Most of the Hunt Company’s ventures have been in retail development. Its portfolio includes about 1 million square feet of retail space in Potsdam, Schenectady, Little Falls, Hornell, Cicero, Dunkirk and Vermont.

The firm owns Potsdam Plaza, which features a Price Chopper store. Many of its other plazas are anchored by Hannaford Bros. grocery stores.

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