AMSTERDAM -- New renderings reflecting community feedback for the proposed $34 million Chalmers Mills Lofts apartment project were released by developers KCG Development and DEW Ventures on Tuesday.
Some of the changes for the 120-unit apartment proposal include: washer and dryer units in every apartment; a rooftop bar over of the 300-person capacity banquet hall; improvements to the public park in front of the building; and the addition of "Juliet Balconies," which are relatively shallow balconies that allow for one or two people to step out and overlook the Mohawk River.
Bill Teator, managing partner at DEW Ventures, on Wednesday said the project is still seeking approximately $18 million worth of affordable housing tax credits, the key financing it needs to move forward with plans to build the apartments. The tax credits are distributed through the state Department of Homes & Community Renewal.
"We're just waiting on a spring window to open up," Teator said. "This is a whole new process for the state. We're just waiting for our chance to apply. Like we said at the end of , the state is kind of repurposing the way they've done things with only end-of-the-year application windows, to have a first-half of the year window and then still have another end-of-the-year window."
KCG was rejected in its first application for the tax credits in May 2019, which are distributed through a competitive process.
Teator has said the state offered comments on how to improve the project's application. The state expressed skepticism as to whether the rental market in Amsterdam could sustain the rents proposed for the building. KCG paid for a $21,150 rental marketing study, which the developers believe proves the existence of a middle market capable of sustaining the rents needed for the building.
Teator told the Amsterdam Common Council in December that typically one-third of the applicants for the federal tax credits receive them.
The tax credits require that 80 percent of the rental units be affordable for people making 50 percent to 60 percent of the area median income level, defined as $58,000.
The original project proposal listed rent prices for the affordable housing units ranging from $650 per month for a one-bedroom to $750 for a two-bedroom apartment. The rest of the units would be based on a market rate, starting at $1,100 and fluctuating from there.
The website chalmersmilllofts.com, which has detailed renderings of what the apartment units would look like, including new appliances, lists a two-bedroom unit as costing approximately $1,000. A one-bedroom unit would be up to $800, according to the website.
KCG Development now owns the property, which it recently bought from the city. In December the developers had been asking the council for an extension for their option to purchase the 3.3-acre site on Amsterdam's South Side, where the former Chalmers Knitting Mill once stood. After several meetings on the subject, the council ultimately voted against extending the purchase option.
KCG bought the land on the last day of its purchase option in 2019 for $297,000. The city's purchase agreement called for $300,000, but it was reduced because KCG had paid $8,000 in option extensions over the past several years.
The recent changes in the project reflect community comments criticizing the lack of in-apartment laundry units and lack of balconies, both now part of the proposal.
Included in the new renderings are proposed public improvements to encourage pedestrian activity along Bridge Street. The improvements are part of the city's Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Envisioned are the creation of a boardwalk, improvements to the sidewalks, streetscape, and civic spaces adjacent to the proposed Chalmers Mills Lofts apartment project.
Amanda Bearcroft, Amsterdam's director of community and economic development, posted the renderings to social media Tuesday and answered questions from members of the public about the project.
"This is the first KCG project where they are incorporating public facilities of this magnitude and a public park that will be deeded back to the city," she said.
Mayor Michael Cinquanti, who has said he doesn't favor the project as currently proposed by KCG Development, has ordered the money paid for the land placed in a dedicated account. He said the city could try to repurchase the property if the developer is never able to obtain the financing it needs for the proposed building.
Teator said the developers are committed to building the project and are hopeful they will get the tax credits eventually.
"In the meantime, obviously, we are reflecting the changes we've committed to based on community input, and we're always doing updates with our project management, structure management team to do updates, to keep refining our early-stage cost estimates," he said. "So, we wanted to refresh those elements and design and cost projections to stay relevant with the market, but that's all we can really do for now."