By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
After years of planning, as part of a downtown revitalization initiative, community leaders broke ground at the site of the Dietz Street loft project Friday April 30, in Oneonta, with the hope of revitalizing and bringing “greater vibrancy” to the city’s downtown.
Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig, state Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Maryland, Hartwick College President Margaret Drugovich, Empire State Development Deputy Director Allison Nowack and other community and business leaders attended the ceremony and lifted ceremonial shovels for the groundbreaking.
These lofts, which began development in April, will bring more people to the downtown area, Herzig said.
The four story building would include artist lofts, 24 middle-income, two-bedroom apartments and units for people with disabilities.
In addition, the project will include Hartwick College’s Grain Innovation Center on the ground floor, which would fulfill a “long sought goal of having our colleges have an academic presence in our downtown,” Herzig told Iron String Press in a follow-up interview Monday, May 3.
The Grain Center would provide a laboratory, a research center and materials for growing artisan grains and whole grain flour.
The development was green lit by the Common Council in July 2019 by a 7-1 vote. The lot was sold to The Kearney Realty and Development Group. It was appropriated for $16 million. The production was put on hold in 2020 because of the pandemic.
The Kearney Realty and Development Group have also built artist lofts in Peekskill, Beacon and Poughkeepsie.
Ken Kearney said that Oneonta has a “tremendous untapped artist community.”
An article 78 lawsuit was filed by an Oneonta resident last year in an attempt to block the development from being built, saying that it obstructed their view and interfered with their walk to exercise at the YMCA. However, this lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, paving the way for the project to be built. Other potential issues brought up by the plaintiffs, such as parking, were considered by the court and found them to be “unavailing and without merit” and granted a waiver of any additional parking requirements.