JAMESTOWN – The effort to create the Gateway Lofts multi-unit housing program at the Gateway Center in Jamestown is moving forward.
Steven Ald, director of real estate development at Southern Tier Environments for Living (STEL), tells WRFA that STEL is seeking clarification from the city regarding the planning commission’s recent decision on the Gateway Lofts proposal.
“[On Tuesday] STEL submitted a Freedom of Information request to City zoning officials requesting the City’s file materials in order to hopefully clarify the City Planning Commission’s recent SEQRA determination and related matters. STEL and its partners will be planning our next steps based on our review of all pertinent information,” Ald said via email.
The positive declaration from the planning commission’s Oct. 16 meeting means the commission felt the project could have a significant effect on the environment as it pertains to housing throughout the city and, as a result, STEL will need to address the concerns outlined by the commission and its staff in a forthcoming environmental impact statement.
“It’s our professional opinion that it has been determined that the proposed Gateway Lofts project does not comply with the spirit or intent of the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan adopted [by the Jamestown City Council] on Dec. 27, 2010 by a vote of 9 to 0 and the plan, as proposed, will create a significant impact on the environment that will create the perpetual cycle devaluing, disinvestment, neglect, and abandonment identified in the neighborhood revitilization plan,” explained city planning associate Crystal Surdyk during the Oct.16 meeting.
STEL and its legal counsel had hoped to that the commission would instead consider the project a “Type II” action – meaning it didn’t require any further environmental review – based on the project already addressing several environmental issues via its Brownfield cleanup plan, along with no significant additions being added to the existing structure.
Ald says that STEL and its partners – Community Helping Hands and the YWCA of Jamestown– is also encouraging members of the community to continue voicing support for the project.
“In light of the critical need for this innovative project and the significant community support that has been expressed for it to date, STEL, Community Helping Hands, the YWCA and their other local partners encourage members of the community to contact their representatives to reinforce their support for the Gateway Lofts,” Ald said. “We continue to work on progressing the project with the City, the necessary funding sources and local stakeholders. ”
On Oct. 9 the planning commission held a public hearing with over 80 people in attendance and the majority of those who spoke were in favor of the project.
The partners want to convert the Gateway Center on Water Street into the Gateway Lofts, which would offer an estimated 40 housing units to low income individuals and families members, along with about 40 other units for single parents seeking housing assistance from the YWCA, as well as non-violent individuals with addiction or mental health issues and overseen by STEL. The total cost of the renovation project is estimated to cost $31 million.
According to the developers, support for the project has been given by several local officials, including: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Catherine Young, Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, County Executive George Borrello, Deputy County Executive for Economic Development and IDA director Mark Geise, Sheriff Joseph Gerace, county Health and Human Services Director Christine Schuyler, and the Homeless Coalition.