postheadericon Town Center Land Sale Letters Approved

townhall_120Letters Of Intent (LOI) to purchase land from the Town of Lansing for two proposed senior housing projects were approved Wednesday, but not without dissent.  If built, the projects will be the first new projects in a new Lansing Town Center.  Councilwoman Ruth Hopkins said she was willing to vote to approve the letters, but only if conditions were added.

Hopkins proposed tacking on conditions that would require the terms of the sale be consistant with current town planning process, including conforming to as yet to be established design guidelines and changes to the location of the project.  She also asked that the agreement be subject to documentation that could include an appraisal of the parcel before a price is agreed upon.

Town Attorney Guy Krogh said that a  LOI is 'the skeleton' of an agreement, and that prices may change.  But he noted that it would be unreasonable to change the location of the parcel once a developer begins investing in a design based on that specific site.

"Normally when a developer signs an LOI they recognize there may be some variance in price," he said.  "But they are planning a multi-million dollar project, so they are looking at the price being a pretty solid thing."

The two projects account for 29 acres of 156 acres of town land across the street from the Town Hall and ballfields.  Calimar submitted a LOI to purchase 13.5 acres.  A four-story, 124 unit, market rate senior apartment building is planned for three of those acres with the rest remaining open space.  NRP Group submitted a LOI to purchase 15.5 acres for an 80 single-story cottage-style units.

Calimar has already agreed to several changes requested by the Town, reworking their LOI to reflect the each one.  Originally their 110-unit three-story project was set for the west side of a main road that will be a northern continuation of Woodsedge Drive.  On reflection some board members decided they didn't want a high rise on that spot because it would obstruct views.  The developer agreed to move the project to the east side, north of the NRP project.  Then as town officials worried the project would threaten a walking pathway along the Ithaca-Auburn Railroad bed, the developer agreed to the Town's suggestion that they reduce the footprint of their building by adding a fourth story.  That worked out to 124 apartments.

Economic Development Committee Chairman Andy Sciarabba noted that the Town has waited five months to get the letters signed as changes have been requested and a sewer project developed.

Now there has been some talk about asking Calimar to move back to the original site, but most Town Board members were ready to accept the current plan Wednesday.

Both developers have agreed to construct infrastructure including roads, sewer, water, lighting, and sidewalks in return for a lower cost per acre.  But Supervisor Kathy Miller notes that the sale of these two parcels will reimburse the Town for its investment in the entire 156 acres, guaranteeing that it will make a profit when other parcels are sold.

Councilwoman Andra Benson said she does not want to prolong the process further, saying it appears as if the Board is not doing anything to further the town center and sewer projects.  Hopkins said she wanted more time to evaluate the projects, but Supervisor Kathy Miller said the board has had the information for at least a month already.

"That looks like a good price with them putting in the infrastructure," said Supervisor Kathy Miller.  "And that's without improvements."

"This Letter Of Intent is just the framework.  It's not locked in," said Councilman Ed LaVigne.  "My opinion is put the damn pipe in the ground.  Let's get going on this.  Enough is enough as far as I'm concerned.  People will review this as we go, it's open to negotiation.  Let's get it going and move forward on this."

The board voted 4-1 with Hopkins dissenting to accept the Calimar letter, and 5-0 to accept the one from NRP group.  Both sales are subject to a sewer being approved and constructed.

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