AUBURN | Calamar Construction could break ground at the site of its future senior living center in March or April, said the company's Director of Senior Housing Jocelyn Bos, moments after the Auburn Industrial Development Authority board approved a 10-year PILOT for the project.
Monday's AIDA meeting ended a payment in lieu of taxes debate that has lingered with AIDA and the community for months.
On July 31, the board unanimously voted against a 20-year pilot for Calamar as many residents of Catlin and North Lewis streets and Standart and Grant avenues have opposed the three-story, 110-unit apartment building they say will negatively impact their neighborhood.
"(The AIDA board) already made up their mind," said North Lewis Street resident Charles R. Flanigan. "They're going to do whatever they want to do."
Flanigan said although he believes the project is probably a good one, he is concerned that it will be built so close to his home.
"We're going to be stuck with what they build," he said. "It's in our backyard, not theirs. They don't live there. We do."
Bos said Calamar tried to cooperate and compromise with AIDA and the residents when planning the project.
"I think we tried to work with them to the best of our ability," she said.
The PILOT will require Calamar to pay the taxes on the current assessed value of the property each year. When the building is complete, and the property's assessment value increases, Calamar will only have to pay 10 percent of the taxes on the newly assessed value, in addition to the current taxes it was paying, for the first year of the PILOT, explained Jennifer Haines, director of city planning and economic development.
Each year, Calamar will pay an additional 10 percent of the taxes on the new assessed value until, in the 11th year, the company will be paying taxes on the full value of the improved property, Haines said.
Haines said the most important part of the agreement is that the city and the Auburn Enlarged City School District will not lose tax revenue, as Calamar will at least be paying the current taxes on the property and that amount will only increase over time.
The only member of the AIDA board against the PILOT was Matt Smith, who read a statement summing up his concerns prior to the vote.
"I truly believe that the community will benefit from this type of housing being constructed, and it appears that the city will not lose financially," he said. "I am pleased that the PILOT being voted on has been significantly shortened and improved through this process, and even while I do not support PILOTs for residential purposes I do respect the good will and honest efforts that went into improving this deal. While I cannot vote yes for using PILOTs in this fashion, I do not harbor any ill will towards those that do support this legal usage of PILOT authority and I wish the developers well."
Member Frank DeRosa also commented before the vote, but spoke in support.
"I believe this project is going to help," he said. "I can't, in good conscience, not vote for this project. I'm concerned not only for seniors ... I am concerned about everyone."
AIDA Chair James Dacey said the project will provide safe and affordable housing for seniors and after the approval.
Bos said she is excited for Auburn seniors, who will have a housing option that will cater to their needs and simultaneously give them independence.
"I'm thrilled for the seniors in Auburn," she said.