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Owners will submit new proposal for CFM building

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The owners of the former CFM Food Distributors building plan to submit a new proposal for the former food distribution center on West Main Street that they want to convert into rental housing.

Kenneth A. Mix, the city’s planning and community development coordinator, confirmed Friday that Back Bay Enterprises, Alexandria Bay, intends to submit a new proposal for the building, 576-580 W. Main St., to the city’s Planning Department by Tuesday’s deadline.

But Mr. Mix does not know whether the new proposal will again include converting the building into 30 apartments or entail some other idea for the property. Bernier, Carr & Associates is working on the project with Back Bay Enterprises.

“I really don’t know anything more until Bernier, Carr comes in,” Mr. Mix said.

On Feb. 7, the Planning Board rejected a request to rezone the former food distribution center and two other nearby properties from light industrial to neighborhood business district, citing that the CFM property was historically industrial.

Planning Board members also tabled site-plan approval for the project because of problems with the parking scheme and contended the maximum number of units should be 27, not the proposed 30 apartments.

Four people spoke against the project, saying the zoning change would interfere with their plans for nearby properties.

In November, Back Bay Enterprises purchased the CFM property for $42,000 from the Zions First National Bank, Salt Lake City, with the hope of redeveloping the building.

Gerald A. Kostyk, vice president of land surveying at Bernier, Carr & Associates, represents Back Bay on the project. He could not be reached to comment Friday. If the documents are turned in to the city, the Planning Board would discuss the new proposal at the March 6 meeting.

The subject of the Back Bay Enterprises project also came up at Friday’s Watertown Local Development Corp. meeting during a discussion about an unidentified company looking at moving into a century-old warehouse behind the CFM building.

Donald W. Rutherford, WLDC’s chief executive officer, said the CFM project might interfere with the agency’s efforts to bring the prospective business to the old Cleaves warehouse at 570 W. Main St.

“It’s not going to be real conducive to this project,” he told WLDC board members.

Mr. Rutherford and Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency officials have been talking with the unnamed prospect that could bring a manufacturing venture and 50 jobs to the site, which is owned by Edmund Street Realty LLC, Cumbersome Foreside, Maine. The estate of Robert E. Cleaves now owns the warehouse itself.

But WLDC’s attorney, W. James Heary, said Back Bay might have some problems with getting access to the CFM property from West Main Street because the Cleaves family also still owns a private road branching from the street that leads into both properties.

The CFM property’s previous owners had a lease to use the entrance road, Mr. Kostyk told the Planning Board two weeks ago.

On Friday, WLDC, also known as the Watertown Trust, gave Mr. Rutherford permission to take an option on the warehouse and 15.5 acres at the site. He will negotiate a deal for the option with Robert Nelson, a Syracuse real estate broker marketing the property for Edmund Street Realty. In describing it as “an established company,” Mr. Rutherford said the prospect plans to make an announcement about the venture in about three to six months.

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