1ST DRI HOME RUN
Father-Son Development Team
Will Brief City Council July 16
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Attention, Oneonta: The Lofts on Dietz are coming.
Common Council will vote Tuesday on making Parkview Development & Construction, Inc., a father and son development team from the Hudson Valley, Ken and Sean Kearney, the “preferred developer” on a local version of Artspace – 40 lofts for artists and another 26 middle-income apartments – planned for the Dietz Street parking lot.
All 66 units in the four-story building are “affordable,” Mayor Gary Herzig emphasized a few minutes ago, adding, “I’m very excited about this.” If all goes as planned, a ground-breaking could occur next summer.
“This really kick-starts transforming downtown Oneonta,” he said.
Shortterm, the Kearneys – father Ken and son Sean, from Baldwin Place, Westchester County – are scheduled to brief Common Council July 16 on their plans. The next day, they’ll appear before the Planning Commission to begin site plan review.
The father-son team recently completed similar projects in Peekskill and Poughkeepsie. “Both (projects) are thriving,” said the mayor. “Both became fully occupied as soon as they opened. Both have had an immediate impact on the surrounding downtown neighborhood – more people on the street, more businesses opening.”
The Kearneys “are first-rate, top-class builders,” Herzig continued. “They have a good reputation wherever they’ve built. I’ve spoken to the mayors of communities where they’ve built, and they give them very high marks for quality, reliability, community mindedness. We’re very fortunate to have them investing here.”
If this goes forward as anticipated, the Parkview Development project will the first major construction to occur since the Empire State Development President Howard Zemsky announced on July 19, 2016, that Oneonta was the first city in the state to win a DRI designation.
As a beneficiary of Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Oneonta could expect $10 million in state largesse to revive its center city. A lengthy planning process ensued, with the first substantial grants — $2 million for facades, signage and upper-floor rehabilitation – not announced until this past March.
The benefit, the mayor said, is “we’ve done our homework,” and that will pay dividends in the Dietz Street.
“We’ve done a housing study that confirms the need for housing downtown. A parking study that verifies an abundance of parking, so we can accommodate more people living downtown. There’s much community support,” he said.
The recent updating of the city’s Comprehensive Master Plan “talked about making downtown Oneonta more of a hub for art. And talked about the need for more downtown housing,” he continued. “This project checks all the boxes.”
Plus, the Minneapolis-based Artspace national non-profit did a feasibility study and found its concept would work here. However, City Hall decided to seek a private developer, which means the building will be on the tax rolls.
The project, to be located across Dietz from the Lizard Lick, will use 50 existing parking space, and the mayor left nothing to chance: “I personally have driven through (the Dietz Street lot) 20 times, at different times of day. On any given day, there are typically more than 100 open parking spaces.”
The developer will also have the opportunity to lease spaces in the downtown parking deck, which would free up further spaces in the Dietz lot.