GLOVERSVILLE – The developers of the proposed $20 million Glove City Lofts 75-unit “artist housing” project presented the city Planning Board with a site plan application Tuesday night, revealing a potential snag to their plan — the 3-acre lot at 52 Church St. was rezoned from commercial to manufacturing in 2015.
Mayor Vince DeSantis spoke to the Planning Board Tuesday night and explained the city was already considering rezoning some areas as part of its Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and the two U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grants it received in 2019 – a $225,000 Brownfield Opportunity Area Study grant and $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant.
“We’ve outlined some areas that should be rezoned [commercial/residential],” DeSantis said.
DeSantis held up a map of the city’s zones, and pointed to the blue square that represents the 3-acre lot at 52 Church St. He said the parcel had always been zoned commercial going back to when a Great American supermarket was built there decades ago, which was eventually converted to a Frontier call center. The call center closed abruptly after reopening briefly in 2009, and has remained vacant since then.
“For some reason the zone was changed in 2015 to be manufacturing, it may be there was some reason for doing that at that time,” DeSantis said. “We’re looking at the whole city, it’s not just this parcel. There will be a lot of changes of the zoning. We knew we were going to change this before this project came to light.”
The current owner of the 52 Church St. lot is the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth (CRG), which in May inked a 12-month purchase option agreement with the Kearney Realty Group to sell the parcel for $200,000. The property is directly across from City Hall and contains a large parking lot and the vacant building. The site plan presented Tuesday includes plans to tear the building down.
Center for Regional Growth CEO Ron Peters said the agency acquired the parcel from two out of town LLCs that donated the land to them in March.
Tuesday night Peters said the Planning Board meeting was the first time he became aware that the parcel is zoned for manufacturing.
DeSantis said the zoning changes will be introduced in July, then there has to be a public hearing before the council and the Planning Board has to make a recommendation.
“What will be before the council is all of the proposed zoning changes, but the Planning Board will be issuing a recommendation [before the zoning change public hearing] on this particular site,” he said.
Fulton County Planner Sean Geraghty, who advises the city Planning Board, said he was there when the Planning Board worked on the zoning change for the 52 Church St. parcel, but he can’t remember exactly why it was changed.
DeSantis said that zone change creates essentially an island manufacturing zone in a part of the city that in recent history has been used for commercial and residential purposes. “It is strange,” he said.
The Glove City Lofts site plan application Tuesday night was filed by Parkview Development & Construction of Baldwin Place, a development firm working for the Kearney Realty Group, which appeared at the meeting via a virtual portal.
The application says the developer would demolish the 45,000-square-foot former Frontier call center and then construct a four-story, loft-style apartment building with elevator access and up to 75 units, 47 of them 1-bedroom and 28 two-bedroom apartments. The building would go on the corner of the lot placing it directly on Frontage Road and Church Street, reorienting the parking lot to the rear of the parcel.
According to the application, the anticipated construction time is expected to be from April 2022 to December 2023.
Ken Kearney, owner of the Kearney Realty Group, previously said the developer will seek about $1.1 million in federal income-based housing tax credits.
Those credits limit how much the apartment building owner will be able to charge in rent, based on community income levels. Kearney has described the tax credits as “middle income.”
“The housing tax credits, you’re able to give a preference to artists, those involved in artistic or literary activities,” Kearney told The Daily Gazette in May. “We have artists in some of our projects making between $30,000 up to $100,000, depending on the county — that would be down in Westchester.”
The Kearney Realty Group has built similar artist housing style apartment buildings in the cities of Peekskill, Westchester County, Oneonta, Otsego County and Rome, Oneida County.