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Discussions Continue On Housing Proposal In Utica

Urban and Economic Development Committee Meeting
Zach Lewis, WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) – A tax agreement has been revised between the City of Utica and a redevelopment company.

Housing Visions Consultants, Inc. is proposing a plan to construct 14 building with 35 low-income housing units in the Sunset-Hobart-Noyes-Elm Street area. The project is named Genesee Crossing. Housing Visions is asking the city to keep the current tax assessments while they build for 20 years, with a two-percent annual increase. After the 20 years is reached, they will pay what the taxes are under the assessment of the new structure.

Originally, the city of Utica would have been paid $460,282 in taxes after the 20 years, but now the new tax agreement would see the city getting $562,172.

Councilman Jim Zecca says he agrees with the redevelopment project because private developers don’t want to develope in the neighborhoods Housing Visions has proposed.

“Right now,” Zecca said, “most of these properties are vacant properties– homes that have been deteriorating for a number of years. As everyone knows, Oneida Castle has been vacant for 30 years. It’s in deplorable condition and nobody is going to spend private money to try to developed that property.”

Councilman Ed Bucciero says the majority of the funding for the project is coming from Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits and it’s something that can’t be afforded.

“These types of programs, nationwide–they’re not sustainable,” Bucciero said. “That’s why the nation is in trillions and trillions of dollars in debt, the state is in billions and billions of dollars in debt and the City of Utica is going to be millions in debt. These kinds of projects, if we don’t get the return on our investment, then the benefits are just not worth the cost.”

Bucciero also says the housing being built does not conform to the long-term goals of the Master Plan. He says “the Master Plan is to stabilize and revitalize city neighborhoods through a planned effort of 70-percent owner occupied homes.” He does not believe the proposed houses will ever become owner-occupied because the units will be rented.

The proposed housing and tax agreement was discussed at an Urban and Economic and Development Committee meeting on Monday night.

The housing proposal will go in front of the full common council next week for a vote.

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