City officials met Tuesday morning with representatives of the owners of Stateway Plaza to talk about possibly building a connector road through the strip malls parking lot to help spur development of a big-box retailer at nearby City Center Plaza on Arsenal Street.
Alexandria Bay developer Patrick M. Donegan arranged for the meeting with Ben Wygodny, one of the partners in the Montreal development company, Stateway Plaza Shopping Center, that owns the plaza, and Jeffrey A. Foster, a real estate manager who works for Longley Jones Property Management Corp. and oversees the plaza.
After the hourlong session, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said the owners seem to be interested in pursuing a connector road that would go through the parking lot and meet up with Gaffney Drive.
The city would need to acquire some plaza property if the project is to proceed, he said. The citys engineering office also needs to put together some cost estimates and figure out exactly how it would be built, he said.
At least, weve got some dialogue going, Mr. Graham said.
At the meeting, the plaza representatitves expressed concern about the need to improve the traffic flow through the parking lot. Motorists often use the lot as a shortcut to get to and from Arsenal Street and Gaffney Drive, the mayor said.
Were just exploring options to see what each party is capable of doing, Mr. Foster said afterward.
Mr. Donegan has said he cannot get a big-box retailer interested in a 22-acre site at the northern end of the City Center Plaza development without the connector road.
Recently, City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk surmised the project could entail a three-lane road, medians and islands, and a traffic signal at Gaffney Drive. A few years ago, the city projected the cost would be about $2.7 million.
No other meetings are scheduled, but Mr. Graham plans to brief the Watertown City Council and new City Manager Sharon A. Addison about how the discussion went.
Plans for a road have been mulled for years but only came up after Mr. Donegan recently began pushing for it again. In June, he told council members that if the city builds a connector road through Stateway Plaza, he guaranteed he could bring a big-box national retailer to the northern end of the development site within about a year.
City officials have said the major stumbling block has always been persuading the plaza owner to sell part of the parking lot for the project.