Gloversville council waives $43K in fees on property eyed for Glove City Lofts

GLOVERSVILLE — The Common Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to authorize city Commissioner of Finance Tammie Weiterschan to waive $43,788 in unpaid fees plus penalties and interest connected to 52 Church St. — the 3-acre property proposed for the $20 million “Glove City Lofts” 75-unit “artist housing” project.

Mayor Vince DeSantis said waiving the fees was a good idea to help promote the economic development of the city. He said the $43,788 in unpaid fees can be broken down into $34,800 in court-ordered fees for violations on the property incurred by its former owners and $8,900 were for unpaid fees for abatements on the property.

“There’s no forgiveness of taxes of course, or any penalties or late fees on taxes,” DeSantis said. “This is a major project across the street. It is a $20 million project. It’s one of the largest economic development projects in Gloversville.”

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DeSantis said the city will make the money back relatively quickly if the Kearney Realty Group, developer of Glove City Lofts, goes forward with building the $20 million 75-unit apartment building.

“To give you a little bit of the scope of it, just the fee for the building permit, that they will be paying for the permit when they receive it is $40,022,” he said. “That’s because building permit fees are based on the value of the building. That doesn’t account, of course, the increased sales tax revenues from all of the building materials that are delivered to the site, hopefully next year, so it’s a huge economic development boost for the city.”

In May, Ken Kearney, owner of the Kearney Realty Group, announced his company had entered into a 12-month purchase option agreement with the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth to buy 52 Church St. for $200,000.

At the time of the announcement, CRG President and CEO Ron Peters said the CRG acquired ownership of the lot, which includes the former Frontier call center building sometime in March from two “out of town LLCs.”

In July, Parkview Development & Construction, of Baldwin Place, the development firm working for the Kearney Realty Group, submitted its site plan application for the Glove City Lofts project to the city Planning Board.

Some of the details included in the application include that the developer would demolish the 45,000 square foot former Frontier call center, and then construct a four-story loft-style apartment building, with elevator access, and up to 75 units, 47 of them 1-bedroom and 28 two-bedroom apartments, and the building would go on the corner of the lot placing it directly on Frontage Road and Church Street, reorienting the parking lot to the rear of the parcel.

According to the application the anticipated construction time is expected to be from April 2022 to December 2023.

But, during the site application process in July, a snag was discovered that could delay the development. The city in 2015, oddly, had chosen to rezone 52 Church St. from commercial use to manufacturing, essentially creating an island manufacturing zone near the city’s downtown, despite the fact the parcel in living memory had always been used for commercial and residential purposes.

During the July Planning Board meeting DeSantis spoke and explained the city was already considering rezoning some areas of the city as part of its Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and the two U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grants it received in 2019: the $225,000 Brownfield Opportunity Area Study grant and $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant.

“We’ve outlined some areas that should be rezoned[commercial/residential],” DeSantis said.

Fulton County Planner Sean Geraghty, who advises the City Planning Board, in July said he believed it would take until the first week of September for the council to propose changes to the city’s zoning rules, present them to the Planning Board for a recommendation and then conduct a public hearing and ultimately vote on the changes.

But the zoning changes haven’t happened yet.

Fee questions

Before the vote to approve waiving the unpaid fees and penalties, 4th Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio questioned whether the waiving of the fees would apply to any owner of the parcel or just the developers of the Glove City Lofts project?

“That’s the only one it pertains to, so say if that doesn’t go through, this [waiver of fees] would only pertain to [the Glove City Lofts developers], correct?” Anadio asked.

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DeSantis said the city has no authority to require the court system to waive the $34,800 in court-ordered fees, but the owner of the property can petition the court for the fees to be waived and the resolution passed by the council means the city won’t object.

“We would simply not oppose that,” DeSantis said. “Once the court order is vacated …”

“Then it’s gone?” Anadio said.

“Then it’s gone,” DeSantis said.

“So, for anybody else coming in it would be vacated for them also?” Anadio asked.

“Yes,” DeSantis said.

“OK,” Anadio said.

Anadio then asked if the developers had completed the purchase of 52 Church St.

DeSantis said he wasn’t sure if the purchase was complete, but he thought the “transfer has happened” between the CRG and the Kearney Group.

“I would feel more comfortable knowing that they already have the property and that they’re going to pursue it,” she said.

DeSantis said only the owner of the property can petition the court to waive the court-ordered fees, so the developers of the Glove City Lofts project would need to complete the purchase before taking that step.

Anadio indicated she was satisfied with DeSantis’ explanation and voted along with the rest of the council to support waiving the $43,788 in unpaid fees plus penalties and interest.

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By Paul Wager