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Affinity subdivides land for student housing construction


POTSDAM — The village Planning Board voted unanimously last week to allow Chason Affinity Inc. to subdivide the property that will be home to a 100-unit student housing development.

The developer has acquired 103 acres of property across from SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall, which the developer has subdivided into two parcels. The first parcel is about 18 acres and will be used for the construction of the housing development. The other parcel contains more than 80 acres and will be set aside for possible future development.

Potsdam Planning and Development Director Frederick J. Hanss said this benefits the developer because Affinity can take out a smaller mortgage that’s limited to the 18 acres where construction is occurring.

“It just makes the transaction a little tidier,” Mr. Hanss said. “If you want to sell a piece of mortgaged property, the lender would want it surveyed, appraised and payment for the appraised value.”

Mr. Hanss said that surveys and appraisals can be quite costly and that it is fairly common for a developer to limit a mortgage only to the property where construction will occur. The subdivision of the property also would allow Affinity to sell portions of the property without having to petition the lender to release the mortgage, he said.

The development will consist of 50 cottages. Every cottage will have two apartments, which can house three residents each. About half of those cottages are expected to be completed before the start of the 2013-14 school year.

The apartment complex, at 206 Main St., also will have a main building with offices and lounge areas for residents. Main Street runs parallel to Route 56 in the SUNY Potsdam area.

Students are the primary market for these apartments, which likely will cost $700 per person per month, according to P. Jeffrey Birtch, chief executive officer of Affinity.

Work on the development began in early September, and Affinity has the ground cleared and has started foundation work.

Mr. Birtch said construction will continue throughout the winter, with the first cottages going up in the next few weeks. He acknowledged that weather conditions might prevent work at times, but said he expects crews to work inside the cottages when low temperatures make outdoor work unfeasible.

The company originally planned to have some apartments ready in time for the 2012-13 school year, but the start of construction was delayed as Affinity attempted to persuade local leaders to approve a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement. If it had been approved, Affinity would have paid a portion of a fixed $5.5 million assessment on the property for the first 12 years of the project.

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