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COR proposing 168 apartments, commercial space in $65-70 million Mercy project

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COR Development Co. is set to take ownership of the former Mercy Hospital complex on Monday, allowing it to proceed with its project to transform the site with a multiuse development of four buildings containing 168 rental housing units and 42,000 square feet of commercial space.

On Friday, Steven F. Aiello, president of COR Development Co., Fayetteville, released more information about the $65 million to $70 million development that is to take the place of the former hospital and nursing home.

Mr. Aiello also said his development company would have complete control of the sprawling property as of Monday, when it closes on the deal to acquire the property’s deed from MGNH Inc., the defunct Lake Katrine company that had shown little interest in it for years.

“It will be completely ours on Monday,” he said in a telephone interview.

On Monday, he plans to make a formal announcement with Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham.

In April, he announced his intent to obtain the sprawling campus of several buildings. Acquiring the deed clears a major hurdle for the project, he said.

If all goes well, demolition and environmental remediation of the property could start this fall, with construction to begin next summer or the following fall. Mr. Aiello plans to use a $2 million grant for the demolition, funding that previously had been earmarked for a 364-unit apartment complex in Carthage.

Still in its conceptual stage, the COR Development project would include a large L-shaped building along Stone and Sherman streets containing 66 market-rate apartments and 30,000 square feet of street-level office and commercial space. Buildings on Stone Street and Massey Street would feature 36 affordable senior apartments, while the remaining structure would stand along Arsenal Street and adjacent to St. Patrick’s Church. It would comprise 30 market-rate apartments and 12,000 square feet of office and commercial space.

Calling the site “a marquee location,” Mr. Aiello said the project would drastically change that neighborhood and could spur other downtown development. It would have an “urban” and “inner harbor” feel, similar to another COR development, Logeun’s Crossing project on the east side of Syracuse.

That project will transform the former Kennedy Square housing complex into a new mixed-use development providing office space for Upstate Medical University, as well as new housing, retail and commercial space in downtown Syracuse.

As vast as the Mercy complex is, Mr. Aiello said, he does not have any reservations regarding demolition, noting the Syracuse project includes razing about seven blocks. He likes the proximity of St. Patrick’s Church to the project, saying it fits in with the senior apartments he is proposing.

The project also should entice Fort Drum soldiers wanting to live in the community, rather than being isolated on post, he said.

Samaritan Medical Center had been operating MGNH’s Mercy Care Center of Northern New York in the complex until April, when the last of the residents were moved to the recently completed Samaritan Summit Village on outer Washington Street.

Redevelopment of the Mercy site will not be the first Watertown project for COR. The firm already has invested millions of dollars in the Watertown area, developing the Towne Center shopping complex, which includes Target and Kohl’s department stores, as well as the 296-unit Beaver Meadow Apartments behind the shopping center on Route 3 in the town of Watertown.

“Beaver Meadows was on the drawing board 18 months ago and is today a reality,” Mr. Aiello said.

Partnering with the agency on his previous Watertown project, Mr. Aiello again is working with the Development Authority of the North Country on this development, he said. He also credited the help of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy’s office and the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

“The economic development process established by Governor Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Duffy really works,” he said.

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