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towncenter120The Town of Lansing wrote a check for $294,800 Wednesday to New York State.  It was sent by Fedex to Albany Thursday.  That virtually concludes the sale of 156 acres of land on Route 34B across from the Town ballfields.  Town Attorney Guy Krogh says the final paperwork should be back in his hands within a week or so.  Once it is signed and filed the Town will be free to develop the land as a town center.

"Once he's filed all the relevant documents with the Tompkins County Clerk it's a done deal," says Lansing Supervisor Kathy Miller.  "The land is ours with all restrictions lifted.  That's really important."

tc_nrpplane400NRP Group flew (left to right) Lansing Economic Development Committee Chairman Andy Sciarabba, Better Housing of Tompkins County's Richard Cowan, Lansing Town Supervisor Kathy Miller (center), Town Engineering and Planning Coordinator Jeff Overstrom (behind Miller), and (left) to view existing developments in Wheatfield and Cleveland last week to show them examples of the kinds of projects they hope to build in the Lansing Town Center. At right are NRP Group's Ken Outcalt and Chris Derr.

The Town purchased the land for $109,500 in 1992.  But the deal included deed restrictions that had been placed on the land in 1933.  The restrictions limited its use to parkland and recreational use.  The only allowed development was for public buildings like a new community center.  Town officials have been trying to get the restrictions lifted for years, and it looked like a final agreement was near last October, but it was held up when State officials said they wanted an additional $490,500.

In 2009 State Senator Michael Nozzolio and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton sponsored bills to repeal the restrictions.  That was signed into law by Governor David Patterson that June.  Last year the State said they would remove the deed restrictions for $490,500.  But Krogh replied with a justification for a much lower price.  The State accepted that offer last March.  Then the town had to wait for the State to make the deal official.  That finally happened this week.

Krogh will send the check, made payable to the Commissioner of General Services, to the counsel of the NYS Office of General Services.  He will record the 'letters patent' with the New York Department of State, then send a copy back to Krogh along with other signed filing forms and a signed contract.  Finally Krogh will file the deed and related documents in the Tompkins County Clerk's Office.  When that is done construction can begin.

tc_land-affordableOver 150 acres of land (left) will be converted into a Lansing Town Center. At right a Lansing delegation visits an affordable senior housing development last week.

New dwellings in Lansing have recently been averaging about 30 per year.  Two developments that have been proposed by NRP Group and Calimar  for the Town Center as well as other developments around the town that will mean hundreds of new dwelling units over the course of the next five or so years.  Miller says that while you can't say for sure what will happen, the developers the Town is working with have a history of making their projects pay.

"They wouldn't just do this because they have an empty space," Miller says.  "They have done studies.  When you're dealing with these developers remember they're going to make money -- that's the bottom line.  They wouldn't do it if they didn't think they were going to make that money."

A week ago NRP Group flew Miller, Town Engineering and Planning Coordinator Jeff Overstrom, Better Housing of Tompkins County's Richard Cowan, and Lansing Economic Development Committee Chairman Andy Sciarabba to see two projects similar to the ones proposed for the Lansing Town Center.  One was developed by NRP Group near Cleveland, and the other by Calimar in Wheatfield, New York, between Buffalo and Niagara Falls.  NRP Group is proposing an affordable senior apartment complex for Lansing, while Calimar has proposed a market-value senior housing project in the Lansing Town Center that they will be ready to begin work on as soon as sewer is available.

tc_calimar_patiohomePatio homes such as this could be part of the Lansing Town Center. (Picture courtesy of Kathy Miller)

"We saw market-value apartment buildings and two-story 'patio homes'.  They were for about $200,000 apiece, so they were in an affordable range.  They had two bedrooms, two and a half baths.  They sold like hotcakes."

Miller says the development had a mix of residences and businesses with sidewalks, bicycle paths, and a lot of diversity of uses, similar to the plan proposed for the Lansing Town Center.  She said the community would be a great option for young couples as well as retiring seniors, and the kind of mixed community that fosters is attractive. 

"I wouldn't mind living in one of the patio homes," she says.  "They have a homeowner's association that mows your grass.  They were all around a big pond with a big fountain in the middle.  They had a bridge leading to an island with a gazebo on it.  They had a pergola.  Near the pond was a big open area where kids could play.  They were delightful, and they sold quickly."

The sewer is crucial to making any of that happen soon in Lansing, but even without the sewer, the land will eventually be developed as a town center in some form.  Until the deal with the State was signed, sealed, and delivered any talk about a town center on that land was theoretical.  This week a major hurdle was passed that will go a long way toward making it real.

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