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Watertown housing projects ask for lengthy tax break deals

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The two proposed housing projects in the town of Watertown have requested 10- and 14-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements.

The agreements would give COR Development Co., Fayetteville, and Morgan Management, Pittsford, relief from property taxes. Both developers submitted applications to the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency for property, sales and mortgage recording tax relief last week.

In its application, COR said its expected sales tax would be $2.2 million and expected mortgage recording tax would be $240,000. The 305-unit, $43 million project would have property taxes of $415,480. But it wants that reduced to only current property taxes on the undeveloped land for seven years, followed by 25 percent of the full taxes on the developed property in year eight, 50 percent in year nine, 75 percent in year 10 and full assessment in year 11.

That is the same structure that the city of Watertown approved for Norstar Development USA’s Summit Wood and Creek Wood apartment complexes. All three projects have an affordable housing component, but Norstar negotiated the PILOT for its two projects directly with the city of Watertown for exemptions applied in the city, Jefferson County and Watertown City School District, as allowed by state Private Housing Finance Law.

COR expects to have five to 10 permanent employees and keep 150 to 200 construction workers busy throughout two seasons at Beaver Meadow Apartments, south of Target in Towne Center on Route 3.

In its application, Morgan Management said the 394-unit, $53 million development faces $1.5 million in sales tax, $345,271 in mortgage recording tax and $464,526 in annual property tax bills.

Morgan Management circulated its proposal for a 14-year PILOT to town, school district and county officials. The proposal includes no property taxes in years one through 10, 20 percent of the full taxation in year 11, with an annual increase in 20 percent increments leading to full taxation in year 15.

Morgan Management expects to employ nine at completion, with 150 construction jobs, at Morgan Watertown Townhomes off County Route 202.

Both projects anticipate paying the full amount for sewer, water and fire service. Morgan, in particular, will carry much of the cost to install a sewer line along County Route 202.

Both projects have applied for help through the Community Rental Housing Program, which is trying to build housing to help fill a gap between current supply and expected demand for apartments as more Fort Drum soldiers return from Afghanistan.

The third project under consideration by a committee of involved agencies is the 402-unit Jefferson Apartments in LeRay, proposed by Dawn Homes, Albany. The development had been awarded a three-year PILOT, then determined later it would have a budget gap and asked for a 10-year PILOT, but was rebuffed by local taxing jurisdictions.

JCIDA CEO Donald C. Alexander said that the PILOT discussions and committee decision on disbursing $7 million in loans may continue on parallel tracks.

“We’re proceeding as fast as we can,” he said. “Other than trying to get it done, I don’t know that we’ve mapped it out.”

Part of those discussions will include trying to create a common framework for the PILOTs.

“That is something we will try to resolve in discussions,” he said. “Sometime in the next couple of weeks, we will sit down and discuss how to work it out.”

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