"We had an opportunity when we were approached by NRP to be a local partner for them," Cowan said. "Chris invited people from Better Housing, Andy Sciarabba, (Supervisor) Kathy Miller to fly to visit some of the sites. We were extremely impressed with the quality. The Calimar site was stunningly beautiful. I manage 500 units in this area. The workforce housing apartments we saw were far superior to anything I see in our local market. So we were very excited to partner with NRP. When we started talking about the Lansing Town Center, (we thought) it would fit nicely into this community."
The NRP Group project is part of an overall plan that includes proposals from three of the four respondents to the RFP. A main road would extend north from Woodsedge Drive. The Green Square Developers project of about 60 single storey patio home duplexes and a possible retail area would be located west of the main road. NRP's 80 unit rental townhouse project would be to the east. North of that development a four story market rate 120 unit senior housing building with would be developed by Calimar. Dirr said that putting the taller building in that northeast corner would preserve views for the rest of the town center and block the view of the New York State boy's detention center directly to its north. The rest of the 153 acre property would be available for a possible business and light manufacturing park.
Part of the NRP plan is to dedicate three acres in the northwest corner of the parcel they plan to purchase back to the Town for use as green space and/or parks. Developers would also build infrastructure at their own cost and dedicate that to the Town.
Dirr said there would be a demand for an area where residents could walk to work, and also walk to a small retail area. But he said there is a threshold of 250 units that would be needed to justify the expense to developers for paying for infrastructure including roads, sidewalks, street lights and a modular sewage treatment package plant, proposed for a parcel to the north of the Green Square project on the west side of the town center. He said that if these three projects are approved by the town that the NRP and Calimar projects would be built immediately. He said the Green Square private residence project would likely be built in phases as the market demanded more homes there.
Dirr noted that NRP's original proposal was for senior housing, but at the request of the Town it was changed to workforce housing. The proposal he presented Wednesday would bring 80 town houses to the town center, arranged around a circular road with a club house, sidewalks and walking paths. The townhouses would have a mix of one, two, three and four bedrooms, ranging in cost from $435 per month for a lower-income one bedroom unit to $1,300 per month for a mid-income four bedroom unit. Each unit has a front patio and a more private rear patio.
A club house would be open to residents of the project. It would include a public events room with a small kitchen, an office for the community manager and a laundry facility. The townhouse buildings would have a half dozen mixed design units arranged around a circular road with a park area including a storm water retention pond in the middle. He said mixing up designs and colors makes the community more interesting visually, differentiating individual homes.
NRP is the developer of the townhouse project. Better Housing will own and manage it. Dirr said that NRP has already spent $75,000 in developing the project, and estimated it will cost another $25,000 to apply for tax credits for the second time. Dirr said the State would have been willing to grant the credits when his company first applied, but there was no clear direction from the Town. He said he is committed to the project and his company is ready to make a $15 million investment in the project, but only if the other developments are also built.
Councilwoman Ruth Hopkins clarified that neither the overall town center plan nor the NRP plan has been approved by the Town at this time. Dirr said his company is flexible as to the details of the plan, but needs the Town to commit to the direction it wants developers to take if the projects are to be realized. That would provide a diverse community as well as the number of units needed to make the infrastructure affordable. But he said the Town will need to set a direction if any of the projects are to go forward.
"Since we started the dialog we've developed over 5,000 units," Dirr said. "We developed an 80 unit project exactly like this project in Saratoga County. One of those projects could have been this project."