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DANC, state give $8.9 million to Fort Drum housing projects


Thursday was a good day for proponents of housing development in Jefferson County.

The day’s actions and announcements included:

n $7 million in construction financing from the Development Authority of the North Country for rental housing units.

n $4 million from the state Empire State Development Corp. to DANC for the Community Rental Housing Program, which encourages market-rate apartment construction.

n $2.4 million from the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal to COR Development Co.’s proposed 305-unit Beaver Meadow Apartments for affordable housing units in the project.

n $600,000 from the division to Jefferson County to rehabilitate 19 substandard homes and rental units in the county.

n $507,300 from the division to Neighbors of Watertown Inc. to build or rehabilitate 20 low-income housing units in downtown.

n $400,000 from the division for affordable apartment rehabilitation and construction in the city of Watertown.

n $400,000 from the division to the village of Carthage to rehabilitate 12 affordable single-family units and four multi-family units.

n $300,000 from the division to Neighbors to purchase and rehabilitate 10 homes in Jefferson County.

n $300,000 from the division to Frontier Housing for improvements to 30 single-family homes in the county.

n $75,000 from the division to Frontier Housing Corporation for emergency housing repairs for the elderly.

The $8,892,300 in state funding was announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as part of the funding awards with the winning North Country Regional Economic Development Council plan.

“Overall, I think it sends a very strong message that Gov. Cuomo is committed to the region, conscious of the situation surrounding Fort Drum and the housing issue and the state has done everything we asked it to fund to move the program forward,” said James W. Wright, CEO of DANC, which administers the rental housing program. “At current numbers, the ESD award enables us to build another 400 units and close the gap with a total of 1,100 — that piece was critical.”

Fort Drum-related organizations have often cited an expected gap of 1,035 apartments needed for an increasing number of soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

“This should reassure the local governments that we’re not alone in this situation,” Mr. Wright said. “The state is stepping forward and you have the $6.4 million on top of the money that was put into Creek Wood, so its contribution is approaching $9 million in the effort. And when you consider the total with the rehab projects throughout the community, the state has in excess of $10 million in commitments to housing here.”

It is meeting Thursday morning, the DANC board agreed to use $7 million in administrative and self-insurance reserves to provide construction financing for the projects that win support from the Community Rental Housing Program.

The money will be repaid by two permanent financing sources: Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, which has more than $3 million in Residential Communities Initiative money it has committed to housing, and ESD, which promised $4 million in permanent financing on Thursday.

JCIDA has promised $2 million and Jefferson County has also promised $2 million, much of which will be the RCI money, money the county receives from housing built on post.

Mr. Wright “and I need to talk mechanically how to do this now,” said Donald C. Alexander, CEO of JCIDA.

The agency had considered a line of credit from a commercial lender to cover times between when the money was needed for housing developers and when revenue was available.

“With the state funding now, how to best allocate that is still up in the air,” Mr. Alexander said. “The point is to drive down the cost of the project itself.”

Mr. Wright said the point is to fill a gap for developers.

“The goal is to facilitate the construction and provide the necessary financing so there are not further delays,” he said. “We are asking them to build in the north country and their banks are telling them what the terms are.”

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