Board?OKs concept for Estee

GLOVERSVILLE – The potential buyers of the Estee Commons property had their project concept – to build new, affordable senior citizen housing – approved by the Planning Board on Tuesday.

The developer, which is in discussions with Fulton County Center for Regional Growth to buy the Estee Commons property, needed the Planning Board’s concept approval so it could apply for funding from the New York State Homes and Community Renewal Agency, which requires an endorsement of the projects concept by the board.

Steven Smith of Civil & Architectural Engineering said the undeveloped Estee Commons building would have to be demolished because of its deterioration.

Plans would include taking down the existing structure and replacing it with a new one. The new building would look like the original building.

Smith said the new building would be shorter than the existing structure but a little longer resulting in it being located closer to Prospect Avenue.

“We want to honor the past, but provide for the future,” said Liberty Affordable Housing Deputy Executive Director Davis Yohe. “We are very proud to preserve these types of buildings.”

Once funding is available they would return to the board for full site plan approval, officials said. Yohe said the plans are contingent on reaching a deal with the CRG and obtaining funding for the project.

However, he said, if they don’t receive funding for the project in this yearly cycle, they will improve what they need to acquire the funding during the next award period.

Yohe explained the process is very competitive with usually about 130 applicants and only 30 to 40 receiving funding.

He said they currently don’t have a clear budget for the project or how much they will be seeking.

Yohe said they would apply for the funding by the December deadline for the project and will hear the decision around April or May. They said the construction of the building would take about 15 months, but are hopeful they can break ground next fall.

Liberty officials previously said CRM Rental Management would manage the property, negotiate deals and help with contacts throughout the construction process. Liberty is a nonprofit affordable housing operation that would lead the development.

Yohe said the plan is to develop an additional 35 one-bedroom units on the Estee Commons property to provide affordable housing for seniors. The other existing rental units on the site would remain conventional rental properties.

He said the new building would have energy efficiencies, a design for residential housing, and handicapped access, on-site management, community and computer rooms and a fitness center.

The new three-story building would keep some of the existing architecture such as large columns at the entry along Main Street and granite blocks that line the base of the building. Smith also said the monuments and existing trees on the property wouldn’t be removed or altered for this project.

Smith said the plan is to use the existing granite around the base of a patio that would be located on the Main Street side of the building.

They said the backside of the building, which can be reached by Prospect Avenue, would serve as the primary entrance and parking for the building.

Smith also said the building would feature an electronic entry system and the lobby would feature old pictures and yearbooks to honor the history of the building in the community.

Mayor Dayton King and other city officials have said the development would be good for the city.

King said a private company paying for what could be a $2 million demolition cost also would be good for the city.

Liberty officials also said they plan to make a payment in lieu of taxes as part of the project as well.

The parcels include the 39-apartment Estee Commons building facing Fremont Street, the vacant adjoining main part of the old school at 90 N. Main St. and a three-acre parcel on Littauer Place.

The CRG is the parent company of the Crossroads Incubator Corp., which owns the former school property.

The CIC was asking $3.4 million for the property.