Estee proposal offered

GLOVERSVILLE – The potential buyers of the Estee Commons property told the city council Tuesday they would tear down an existing building on the site and build a new one for affordable senior citizen housing.

The developer, which is in discussions with Fulton County Center for Regional Growth to buy the Estee Commons property, gave a presentation about the plans to the council.

Julie Flynn, director of development for Liberty Affordable Housing, and John Varecka, president of CRM Rental Management, said the plans are contingent on reaching a deal with the CRG and obtaining funding for the project.

Flynn said CRM would manage the property, negotiate deals and help with contacts throughout the construction process. Liberty is a nonprofit affordable housing operation that would lead the development.

She said the mission of Liberty is to create and preserve affordable housing.

Flynn said the plan is to develop an additional 40 units on the Estee Commons property to provide affordable housing for seniors. The other existing rental units on the site would remain conventional rental properties.

Flynn said the undeveloped Estee Commons building would have to be demolished because of its deterioration. She presented pictures to the council showing a key can be inserted into some of the wood because it has become so water-logged. Some of the floors are collapsing and there is a lot of mold.

Plans would include taking down the existing structure and replacing it with a new one. The new building would look like the original building.

She said the new building would have energy efficiencies, a design for residential housing, and handicapped access, on-site management, community and computer rooms and a fitness center.

The new four-story building would keep some of the existing architecture such as large columns at the primary entry along Main Street and granite blocks that line the base of the building.

The potential buyers said they would apply for funding for the project and could break ground in about a year. The construction of the building would take about 15 months.

“We wanted to make sure our intentions were known by the public from the very beginning,” Varecka said about the presentation. “We have been trying to find a way to save the old high school, but the numbers just didn’t work.”

“We have been trying to find a way to redevelop that property over the last few years,” said CRG President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Reese. “At this point and time, we don’t have an actual deal with Liberty Affordable Housing to move forward with this project but wanted to give a presentation this evening to let people know what our thoughts were before everything gets cemented into a deal.”

Mayor Dayton King and other city officials said the development would be good for the city.

First Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth said she has been to some of the developer’s properties in Amsterdam is impressed with what she has seen.

“Having 40 people that might have a little disposable income and their families come to downtown will help the existing stores and spur new stores, and I am really excited about it,” King said. “I think this is just one more great addition for the city of Gloversville.”

King said a private company paying for what could be a $2 million demolition cost also would be good for the city.

Reese said the potential buyers are interested in buying the three parcels that make up the former Estee school complex.

The parcels include the 39-apartment Estee Commons building facing Fremont Street, the vacant adjoining main part of the old school at 90 N. Main St. and a three-acre parcel on Littauer Place.

The CRG is the parent company of the Crossroads Incubator Corp., which owns the former school property.

Reese said Liberty is based in Rome, Oneida County, and has properties in Amsterdam. He said he has been working closely with the company’s engineers and architects to possibly reach a deal.

The CIC was asking $3.4 million for the property.

Gloversville in March filed a lawsuit against the local economic development agencies in an attempt to recover $750,000 related to the Estee Commons development.

City Attorney Anthony Casale said there is a conversation taking place on how Liberty taking over the property would affect the lawsuit.

“I cannot comment about the details at this time,” Casale said.

The lawsuit stemmed from a loan the EDC made to the CIC in the mid-2000s to redevelop the former school into the apartment complex.

The city’s decision Tuesday to limit multi-family housing in residential areas would not affect the possible Estee development because the property is not in an R-1 zone.

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