POTSDAM - SUNY Potsdam President Dr. John F. Schwaller announced Friday that an exciting economic development proposal, the Raquette Village at Lehman Park, is a key priority for his remaining tenure on campus.
The college is continuing to develop plans for the Raquette Village at Lehman Park project, along with its private partner, who has been on board since April. SUNY Potsdam submitted the proposal through the second round of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant in October, and it has received positive feedback from SUNY officials.
This priority project, identified in SUNY Potsdams Facilities Master Plan, fulfills community and economic development visions for our regions future, while also contributing to the colleges continued growth. The time is right for SUNY Potsdam to advance this initiative for the good of the Potsdam community, and the north country as a whole, Dr. Schwaller said. I believe that this proposal can and will bring energy to our campus and our region, in a public/private partnership that would create lasting jobs and sustained economic impact, while showcasing the natural beauty of the Raquette River.
Clarkson University President Dr. Anthony G. Collins is also a champion of the initiative.
The Lehman Park proposal has the potential to substantially benefit not only SUNY Potsdam, but also the village of Potsdam and the entire North Country community, said Dr. Collins. Given that this project embodies several of the strategies outlined in the North Country Regional Economic Development Councils winning Strategic Plan, and that its impact would benefit the Potsdam community, St. Lawrence County and the region as a whole, I strongly support further exploration of this proposal.
The Raquette Village at Lehman Park proposal is SUNY Potsdams submission for round two of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant. The college is also seeking funding and support from other avenues to advance this priority project.
The Raquette Village at Lehman Park proposal would fulfill the 2010 SUNY Potsdam Facilities Master Plans goal to utilize the untapped potential of Lehman Park. The project would also bring together the strengths of SUNY Potsdam, the Potsdam College Foundation and a local private investor/partner, in a partnership designed to align strategies, foster growth and engage the community.
The Potsdam College Foundation Board of Trustees voted unanimously on an enthusiastic statement of support for the Raquette Village at Lehman Park project at its Nov. 3 meeting, and is committed to working in partnership to find financing for the project.
The main collaborator from outside the college would be Titus Management Group, LLC. This company is run by local businessman Lowell Warner, a highly skilled management professional with an MBA and more than 10 years of experience in financial management, business development, and commercial real estate. Warner received his bachelors degree in economics from SUNY Potsdam, before earning his Master of Business Administration at Clarkson University.
This is very exciting for me, as a SUNY Potsdam alumnus, to work with a great team at my alma mater. To bring a project to Potsdam that will have such a positive economic impact on the greater community is an amazing opportunity, Warner said.
Warner recently finished his tenure as president of the Rotary Club of Potsdam and maintains a seat on the Finance Committee of the Canton-Potsdam Hospital Foundation Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce, and operates two other businesses locally. As the single investor/partner for the private component of the project, he has shown a willingness and ability to bring upwards of $6 million to fund the hotel and restaurant.
The Raquette Village at Lehman Park proposal would bring several transformational assets to the Potsdam community:
■ Hotel with restaurant: Filling a major need for the Potsdam area, the private partner has secured financing for an 85-room mid-scale hotel, with a restaurant, lounge, pool and fitness center. Representatives from several major hotel franchises have visited the site, and are excited about the possibility of extending their brands to Potsdam. This major chain facility would be managed by the private partner/investor, and offer lodging to the numerous families, potential students, visiting faculty, athletic teams, guest speakers, artists, tourists and visitors who travel to the area throughout the year.
■ Multi-purpose housing: The college proposes to build in-demand multi-purpose housing, with a combination of 120 townhouse, cottage and apartment-style units, specifically designed for retirees, alumni, employees of the universities, and graduate, married or non-traditional students. The location of this housing, set apart from the main residential zone, provides an ideal private setting for older students, professionals and faculty emeriti, creating a village within a village.
■ Conference center: A conference center would accommodate conventions of up to 350 attendees, with expandable meeting rooms and the latest technology, plus a full professional catering kitchen. The centers multi-use spaces could host meetings, conferences and presentations for both campus and community, as well as receptions and special events.
■ Enhanced green space: Finally, the unparalleled surroundings will tie all of these assets together, with a central village green, walking paths, picnic areas, and a fully developed waterfront recreation area with boathouse, to enhance the existing facilities. Outdoor pavilions and patio spaces would offer ideal sites for concerts, performances and special events. The entire project would be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified and all development would preserve and respect the parks natural environment.
Raquette Village would create an estimated 73 full- and part-time permanent positions, in addition to dozens of construction jobs. This unique project is estimated to generate $13.6 million in new economic activity for the region each year. The additional short-term impact during construction would add approximately 64 jobs and $23.9 million annually, for four years.
SUNY Potsdam, through the Potsdam College Foundation, is committed to directing revenue from the conference center and housing complex, and lease income from the hotel/restaurant, directly toward the student experience. Income from these sources would be dedicated to bolstering academic programs and supporting student scholarships.
For more information about the Raquette Village at Lehman Park proposal, visit www.potsdam.edu/about/administration/president/nysuny2020.