Saturday, January 14, 2006

Do These Names Sound Familiar?

Two proposals were received for the OEO lake site that was posted on here. One proposal is from Iversen, one proposal is from Massa. Here's a list of some recent projects in and around Geneva, and the developer who is responsible for them:

    1. The Hampton Inn--Iversen
    2. The Lyons National Bank--Massa
    3. The Geneva Housing Authority Office Complex--Massa
    4. The Geneva Housing Authority's Quail Summit--Iversen
    5. The Geneva Housing Authority's Lyceum Projects--Massa
    6. Renovations to City Hall--Massa
    7. Renovations to the Ice Skating Rink--Massa
    8. The Ramada Inn--Iversen

What do all of these projects have in common? They are all either tax exempt by law (#6 & 7) or involved in a tax abatement agreement through the city's empire zone or industrial development agency (# 1-5 and #8).

It seems fair to make the following prediction: Whatever is being proposed by these two developers is probably contingent on a lot of city dollars being invested, or an outright tax exemption, or both (it's probably most likely this last option). Another prediction: if Iversen gets the project the building will probably be some modular-unit construction with a lack of aesthetic merit. But I guess there's no accounting for taste. Wait, there is accounting for a lack of taste: it's called city-in-the-red-accounting!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Perhaps No News Is Good News

The deadline has passed for submitting proposals on that lakefront parcel posted here a while back. But there's been no news in the paper about bids, if any, received by the city. Maybe the old adage, 'no news is good news' holds here. Maybe we have avoided solicitations from developers with their hands out. We shall see.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Is something really better than nothing?

The meeting of the Geneva City Council is on the radio tonight. That would have been useful information to include in the last post. WEOS' coverage of the meetings has been sporadic, so this was an unexpected but positive discovery. They have a live feed from their website.

There is yet another parcel for sale within the city. It's a empty lot off of Ada Street. The city sent out proposals, asking for creative development ideas. All they received back were two proposals to do modular homes. One proposal was for 20+ homes of 1,000 square feet each. 1000 square feet? What is the market for that house?

In another case of subsidy-driven development, one proposal asked for the city to foot the bill for the road and curbs and sewers. The estimated cost for that work is one million dollars, and it was said that the development would only give the city about $60,000 in tax revenue each year. That means it would take the city 16 years to get its investment back.

At one point it sounded like the council would dump the proposals and start over. Instead, the majority (but it wasn't unanimous) decided to allow the two developers to submit more formal plans. The reasoning seemed to be "something is better than nothing." But I've seen that land by Ada Street and I don't think it's that bad. I'm not convinced that a strip of 1000 square foot modular homes is better than the open space.

A building of interest

The former gas station/service station on Main Street in Geneva.
This building is owned by the city and has sat vacant for many years. A few years ago, a local arts group wanted to purchase it as a ticket office for a theater. The plan can be viewed at this site.
The plan was a good one, but it required a partnership with Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Hobart and William Smith has since indicated that it does not have an interest in building a downtown performing arts center.
Now the building is in limbo. The arts group still wants to purchase it, for $1, but it insists that the building cannot be saved and have asked for a "structure free site." They are willing to contribute $50,000 in grant funds to the demolition, but they have not presented a plan for future use of the site, other than open space. A hole in the Main Street streetscape seems undesireable, a tax exempt hole is doubly so.
Another group has come forward to purchase the building, and to stabilize it. This group is made up of private citizens who see the building's architectural significance and economic importance. They are offering $25,000 in cash to the city and $25,000 in repair costs to keep the building standing. Their plan is to market the building to a private developer who would remodel it and use it for some taxable purpose.
These proposals have been in front of the city council for some time now, but no action has been taken. It will be discussed at the January meeting. Perhaps there are other people interested in this building as well?

Monday, January 02, 2006

How other people see us

I found some great websites about Geneva. Many of them are created by tourists who have visited and appreciate what we have the good fortune to experience every day:

This couple love our area so much, they wrote a song about it! Visit their site.

You can celebrate the food and culture of central NY on this site.

Lots of people posting regional information here.

Even the Democrat and Chronicle does a Finger Lakes special feature.