CARS HOMES JOBS

FMCC plans housing, retail development near campus

Thursday, December 19, 2013
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— Townhouses, boutique-style shops and a grand view of the Mohawk Valley are among the features of a multimillion-dollar development being planned for land next to Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

College officials gathered at the College Union with a crowd of about 100 people Thursday night to announce the new Global Village at FM, a project that will mix student housing, apartments for the general public and opportunities for dining and shopping.

The college of about 2,850 students has already outgrown new student housing opened last year, which added 144 beds for a total of 288, FMCC President Dustin Swanger said.

“I think we have no choice but to grow,” he said, adding that the college is welcoming more international students, as well as those from outside the two-county region.

Swanger said the new Raiders Hall housing filled up, and now there are 50 students staying at the MicroTel in Johnstown, while another 50 students remain on a waiting list.

Two parcels make up the property between Bendick Corners Road and Sacandaga Road north of Route 67. The land purchases, which began in November 2011, nearly double the amount owned by the college, which sits on a roughly 200-acre campus.

The project, which is moving from the vision stage to planning, would come in three phases, two targeting the 145 acres the college purchased.

The first element of the development would be student and public housing, with a retail sector roughly estimated at $12 million.

Swanger said the college may borrow the money and take out a mortgage.

Not yet priced is the second phase, a new fieldhouse to the west of Bendick Corners Road on the current college campus, or the third phase, a housing complex for senior citizens.

Discussion about the flight of the region’s youth has been ongoing for years, but Swanger said he realized what that meant months ago when he went into the new Moe’s Southwest Grill on Route 30 in Amsterdam.

He said he entered with a group of “20 somethings” and he heard one of them say “finally there’s a place for us.”

“That’s a powerful message. They didn’t feel they were welcomed or at home elsewhere in our community,” Swanger said.

Robert J. Joy of Glens Falls-based JMZ Architects and Planners outlined plans so far and said the college is in a position to be able to turn developable land into a unique attraction.

“It’s cutting edge. It’s different. There isn’t another community college in the country that’s looking at something as creative as this,” Joy said.

He said the most-developable portion of the land is within the town of Amsterdam. FMCC’s footprint is situated in both Montgomery and Fulton counties and within several towns.

The vision at this point is to build an entrance off Bendick Corners Road to avoid busy Route 67.

Other elements of the plans include cross-country ski routes, a nature trail, a pond and views of a tiny brook that runs through the property, Joy said. The pond could be used for ice skating and events, and officials are eyeing farmers markets and an off-leash dog park as additional features.

In all, there would be approximately 16,700 square feet of retail space to include restaurants and possibly coffee shops and other stores.

Housing would take up about 45,295 square feet, with about 124 beds, mostly for students but about 25 for the general public.

Amsterdam town Supervisor Thomas DiMezza said the development would add to the region, and he doesn’t believe it would detract from businesses in his town off Route 30 or in the Glove Cities off Route 30A. The town of Amsterdam’s growing Route 30 business district has the “big box” stores and chains, and the new development at FMCC won’t, DiMezza said.

“We’re going to have uniqueness. We’re welcoming it with open arms,” DiMezza said.

Swanger said it’s likely the college will seek a payment in lieu of taxes agreement with taxing jurisdictions, so the retail development would generate revenue. The project would also create construction jobs initially, as well as permanent retail jobs, the number of which hasn’t been estimated.

Swanger said the college is still “crunching numbers,” but if plans work out, the first phase of retail and housing space could be opened as early as the fall of 2016.

 
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