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City proceeds with plans for plaza road

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The city continues to work with the owner of Stateway Plaza on a proposal to build a connector road through the strip mall’s parking lot to help spur development of a big-box retailer at nearby City Center Plaza off Arsenal Street.

City officials recently met with Ben Wygodny and Martin Wenger, partners in the Montreal development company Stateway Plaza Shopping Center, which owns the plaza, to discuss and get an update on the proposed project.

The two parties agreed to work on their ends before meeting again next month, City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk said. The city promised to get more details together and a better estimate on its cost, while the plaza owners plan to talk about the concept to their tenants, he said.

“We’ll do what we need from our end and see what they come up with,” Mr. Hauk said recently.

So far, the city’s engineering office has projected it will cost about $1.75 million to build the connector road. The city will have to negotiate a price to acquire some land in the parking lot for it to proceed.

The project has been discussed for years and came up again last spring when Alexandria Bay developer Patrick M. Donegan, who owns the nearby City Center Plaza, where several restaurants and two hotels are, told the city the lack of the road was the only issue preventing him from luring a national retailer to his development.

In July, the city first met with the owners to discuss the idea.

To try to cut down on costs, the Watertown City Council suggested the city could 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.

The city had been looking at a 1,400-foot-long, three-lane connector road that would curve around the parking lot and link up with Commerce and Gaffney drives at the other end. It remains unclear which concept would be pursued. Plans could also call for demolishing a small, unoccupied structure at the back of the property that sits near a church.

If it fails to negotiate a price, the city could obtain the needed land through eminent domain.

In June, Mr. Donegan told the council that if the city builds a connector road through Stateway Plaza, 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.

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