A newlywed military couple was one of the 20 families who claimed new homes Saturday at Beaver Meadows Apartments in Watertown.
The weekend marked the grand opening of the 296-unit complex built by COR Development Co. of Fayetteville, off Route 3 in the Towne Center plaza. In the four-story building that opened, 37 of the 40 units have been leased. Three additional buildings at the site are set to open in August, October and November.
Military employee Robert E. Hirsh, who married his wife, Kaitlyn, in May, said their three-bedroom apartment met the criteria needed for his young family. Mrs. Hirsh, a Syracuse native, is eight months pregnant with the couples first son, to be named Rhylin M. The couple also is raising her 8-month-old daughter from a previous relationship.
The Hirshes were assisted with their grocery shopping trip Monday by the Sandersons, a Watertown couple they befriended. Dozens of plastic grocery bags lined the shiny kitchen counter and wooden floor, filled with essentials bought during the morning at Walmart and Aldi on Arsenal Street.
Mr. Hirsh is a technical support specialist at the Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield at Fort Drum. Because of his entry-level salary, he qualified for limited-income housing assistance at Beaver Meadows.
Instead of $1,300, the monthly rent here is about $1,000, the 23-year-old said. The extra $300 for basic housing allowance now goes toward my normal paycheck. I can spend it on bills and groceries.
Those savings, coupled with the quality of the upscale apartments, made the couples choice to move here easy.
We like it here mainly because its new, said Mr. Hirsh, who previously lived for four years in barracks housing at Fort Drum. He met his wife about a year ago.
I have a pregnant wife, so its convenient to be right here on Arsenal Street close to businesses, he said.
The Hirshes also brought along 9-week-old puppy Kami, a Labrador-akita mix. She had plenty of space to roam around Monday in the 1,300-square-foot second-floor apartment, which includes two bathrooms and an outdoor porch.
Apartments at Beaver Meadows are being scooped up fast. Ten of the 20 apartments moved into this weekend were claimed by military families, said Thom M. DiFant, COR residential leasing and property manager. About 75 percent of the 48 units in the building that will open in August have been leased, and 16 of the 40 units in the building that opens in October.
If they continue to be rented at this pace, Mr. DiFant said, they will be full by the end of the summer.
Market rates for the apartments range from $760 per month for a 760-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment, up to $1,327 for a 1,327-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment. Those rates dont include the cost of gas and electric utilities. Amenities include a clubhouse, fitness center, walking trail, playgrounds and 24-hour security.
Because the complex was built to address the demand for market-rate rental housing in the region, COR obtained financial perks approved by local agencies and taxing jurisdictions for the project. The developer secured a 10-year tax break that reduced the $3 million in property taxes it would have owed without the deal by 50 percent. COR will make $1.5 million in PILOT payments to Jefferson County and the Watertown City School District.
COR received a $3 million loan from the Community Rental Housing Committee, composed of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, Jefferson County and the Development Authority of the North Country.
JCIDA also approved sales and mortgage-recording tax breaks totaling about $1.5 million.