The citys engineering office has projected it will cost about $1.75 million to build a connector road through Stateway Plazas parking lot to help spur development of a big-box retailer at nearby City Center Plaza on Arsenal Street.
The Watertown City Council got an update Monday night on the project that has been discussed for years and then came up again this spring when Alexandria Bay developer Patrick M. Donegan told the city the lack of the road was the only issue preventing him from luring a national retailer to his development.
Council members learned Monday night that the owners of Stateway Plaza have informally agreed they would like to see the road built, but the city still needs to negotiate a price to acquire some land in the parking lot for it to proceed, said City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk.
While not committing to go forward with the project Monday night, council members instructed Mr. Hauk and City Manager Sharon A. Addison to start negotiating with the Montreal development company, Stateway Plaza Shopping Center, that owns the plaza. In July, the city met with the owners to discuss the idea.
I think the owners want the road, but its just working out all of the details, Mr. Hauk said after the meeting.
To try to cut down on costs, Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns suggested the city construct a road that would go as far as Mr. Donegan would need to develop the remaining 22 acres at the northern end of his development site. Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith agreed, adding the rest of the road that would hook up to the already existing Commercial Drive could be done in the future.
To either keep parking spots intact or possibly add more, the entire 1,400-foot-long, three-lane connector road would curve around the parking lot and link up with Commercial Drive at the other end. Plans also would call for demolishing a small unoccupied structure at the back of the property that sits near an existing church.
If it fails to negotiate a price, the city could obtain the needed land through eminent domain, Mr. Hauk said. He also pointed out a less likely option could be the plaza owners building the road and then turning it over as a city street.
In June, Mr. Donegan told council members that if the city builds a connector road through Stateway Plaza, he guaranteed he could bring a national retailer to the 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.
In other action, the city heard from a New York City firm that would like to purchase Maple Courts Apartments on the citys south side for $3.1 million and invest about $2.1 million to renovate the 92-unit complex. Council members took no action on a 30-year tax-abatement program the developer, the Related Companies, has proposed.