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Town Land For Sale

In 2013 the Town of Lansing issued a RFP (Request For Proposals) to developers interested in building on 156 acres of town-owned land that borders Route 34, across the street from the Town Hall and ball fields.  Four proposals were submitted, and three of them were deemed to fit together to fit a concept of what the Town had developed as a potential future town center.  The developers were willing to build the infrastructure, including a package plant to handle sewage, roads, water mains, lighting, and so on.  Then, for some reason, the fairly detailed concept plans one of which included a purchase proposal, faded away.  Nothing happened for years until this January when the Town issued a new,  24 page RFP.

"A lot of times 'RFP' would stand for 'Request For proposals'," says Lansing Supervisor Ed LaVigne.  "This time it's more or a 'Request For Purchase'."

Nevertheless, the intent appears similar.  Proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by a committee made of Town Attorney Guy Krogh, Planner Michael Long, Councilwoman Katrina Binkewicz and LaVigne.  They will be shared with the entire Town Board, and if at least four of the five board members agree, individual proposals will be accepted.  The RFP has been sent to developers who responded to the 2013 version additional developers, adjacent landowners, and farmers, as well as being posted on the Town Web site's home page so anyone can access it.

"Our concept is to first identify potential users for a potential areas, and then try to develop a working relationship with each of those areas so we can define who builds the road, who is going to put in what, and what is the value of it?" explains Town Planner Michael Long.  "If the Town does it then the value of the land is higher.  So it's part of a negotiation process, so to speak, where we find a developer for that spot and we start to work on a proposal that makes sense to both parties."

The property has been divided into nine segments that will be priced differently based on their location.  Potential commercial areas along the roadway will be priced higher than harder to access plots along the rear of the property that are closer to the juvenile detention center.  Long says negotiations as to whether the Town or developers build roadways and infrastructure will also impact the price.

"A lot of what's in this plan is an update of the earlier RFP," Long says.  "In the RFP there's a map.  We developed a potential concept for a road system.  It would be set up so that people would have different development opportunities.  then we got appraisals done on the different values of land.  Something that is directly on Route 34 has one value.  Something that is way in the back in the corner that's not accessible by road has another value."

Town Land For SaleSome of the potential projects suggested in the RFP are a hotel, retail businesses, residential developments, research facilities, farm land, recreation, open space and trails.  It specifies that the Town is interested in projects that use sustainable energy and green building techniques, and road design that favors pedestrians.

"I think we can widen the lens here -- what if a farmer wants to buy it?," posits LaVigne.  "I work with the Ag Committee, and as Will Rogers said, "'They're not making any more of it'.  Maybe it's sold as farm land.  Maybe part of it is sold as farm land.  Maybe part of it is sold to a developer who has to be creative because those developments (from the 2013 RFP) were predicated on sewer.  What happens in the future?  That's up to the person who wants to buy that piece of land and invests in it.  Maybe they just buy it and leave it alone.  If they own it they're allowed to do that."

Town officials say that some of the land may be held onto for new ball fields in the future, or other possible town uses.  LaVigne says all ideas are on the table, including a possible new, larger community center, or perhaps a new town park or new library building.  LaVigne and Long both say they envision a new community center on the Town Hall side of the road, building upon the municipal campus that already includes the Town Hall, Lansing Community Library, Lansing Community Center, Field One Room School House, and Lansing Historical Archives building.

"I'd love to see a new community center built some day that would help all our residents," LaVigne says.  "Those are things you dream about now, that become reality when you work on them in a reasonable time frame."

Long notes that there are pluses and minuses to developing on the property.  The big drawback is there is no sewer.  The respondents in 2013 had agreed to share the cost of a sewer package plant, essentially a mini-sewage treatment plant that would service their projects.  That will have to be negotiated anew, and is subject to state DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) approval.  But the location, availability of water and the fact that the property is an empty slate bound only by a developer's imagination and the Town's zoning laws are major enticements.

Additionally, in 2012 the Tompkins County IDA (Industrial Development Agency) approved a tax incentive plan that would create a 'Lansing Town Center Incentive Zone' to promote development by providing streamlined approval of tax incentive agreements to developers who build projects within the zone.

Will the land actually be sold this time around?  Or will this effort disappear, only to resurface years from now like a developmental Brigadoon?  Long says he hopes something will result from the new RFP.  But LaVigne says he is in no hurry to dispose of the land.  He says it is a matter of only accepting the right proposals that will bring benefits to the Town as well as developers.  He notes that increasing the assessed tax base is a major priority, especially in light of the devaluation of the Town's largest taxpayer, the Cayuga Power Plant.  But he says this particular property is not crucial to doing that, citing a plethora of current and future projects along Warren and Triphammer Roads and his recent negotiations to increase sewer capacity for projects in that south-central and eastern portion of the Town.

"At this point it's an asset the Town has," Long says.  "It's worthwhile looking at all options and trying to figure out what makes the best fit."

"We will examine all offers," adds LaVigne.  "We will look at them seriously.  From there we will move forward -- or not.  I'm comfortable not selling it.  I'm OK with that because Lansing is financially strong.  This is not a 'make or break' for us.  This isn't a fire sale.  This is an optional sale where if nothing happens we will continue to move forward and build in other areas, and do what we can to increase our assessed value as fast as we can to take the burden off our taxpayers."

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