By Maureen Werther
The Saratoga Springs City Council unanimously approved a 30-year PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) deal as part of its plans for the re-development of the old Saratoga Diner property on South Broadway, known as “SoBro.”
The incentive plan consists of waivers of various city fees and will support the project’s long-term (50-year) rent restrictions on its planned residential units.
The plan includes incentives of approximately $1.17 million over 30 years on an approximately $30 million investment in the 156,000 square-foot mixed use space and two-tiered parking, as well as waivers of $1,500 per unit recording fees and a waiver of building permit fees.
When completed, the project, which was issued a special use permit this summer by the city Planning Board, will contain 110 affordable one- and two-bedroom apartments- referred to as “workforce housing,” as well as professional and commercial properties. In total, the three-acre property will combine 96,000 square feet of residential space, according to DEW Ventures in Saratoga Springs, doing the project in conjunction with KCG Development of Indianapolis.
Fourteen of those units will be reserved for veterans and they will be managed by the Veterans and Community Housing Coalition.
Anticipated rental rates will range from $900 per month inclusive of gas and electric for a one-bedroom unit to a high of $1,650 per month for a two-bedroom. Amenities will include elevators, a community room, fitness center, parking, storage, in-unit laundry, shared patio spaces.
Bill Teator, managing member of DEW Ventures in Saratoga Springs, said the incentives are contingent upon the allocation of residential rentals according to this plan. He also said that, because the project will also create public benefits including an entrepreneur incubator and a nonprofit arts space, the PILOT tax abatement was also supported.
Teator said the project will help to revitalize the southern portion of Broadway in Saratoga Springs. In addition to providing much-needed affordable housing to people in the community who work in the fields of hospitality, healthcare and other local industries, the building will also become home to SPARK Saratoga – Saratoga Economic Development Corp.’s entrepreneur incubator – and Saratoga Co-Works, a local small business professional workspace founded by Dan Bullis and Dorothy Rogers-Bullis, who opened a Co-Works location at 153 Regent St. in 2015. The project leaders also hope to include nonprofit performing and visual arts organizations, with the goal of offering potential studio space for a performing arts company, according to Teator.
Teator said that they are specifically evaluating the potential for an audio/film visual arts studio space, a niche that local and regional arts leaders have identified as lacking in the current market.
“People are looking at ways to put together a potential operational group to manage such a space,” said Teator.
The project leaders are also seeking financing through state funding opportunities. According to Teator, the state Department of Homes and Community Renewal is seeking projects through an open round of requests for proposals geared specifically toward the development of workforce and mid-income housing options in areas where markets have expanded and cost of living has increased.
To date, the project team includes the architectural firm of Carmina Woods, based in Buffalo, NY and The LA Group will be doing the site planning. Teator said the goal is to be in position to begin construction by summer 2018.