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Developer plans 359 more townhouses with connector road to Watertown mall

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WATERTOWN — Morgan Management plans to build a 359-unit townhouse complex to the east of County Route 202 that would include a connector to Salmon Run Mall built by the town, according to a site plan submitted to the Planning Board.

The Pittsford developer plans to start construction in November at the 54.6-acre site north of Walmart Supercenter. The project comes as the developer works toward finishing construction of its 394-unit Preserve at Autumn Ridge complex, on the other side of the road, by next summer.

Blueprints designed by Costich Engineering, Rochester, indicate a project including 42 seven-unit and 13 five-unit townhouse buildings, along with a 5,500-square-foot clubhouse, outdoor pool and playground. The two- and-three bedroom rental units will have the same layout as those being built in the Autumn Ridge complex.

To build the access road from County Route 202 to Salmon Run Mall Loop Road, the town would acquire from Morgan and Pyramid Cos. of Syracuse a strip of land across along the southern edge of the development.

The developer will revisit the Planning Board on Sept. 9 for another site plan review. If the board is receptive to the plan, it could then be approved during a public hearing in October, said Planning Board Chairman Thomas E. Boxberger. He said the developer was asked to update its plan to include more information about stormwater management, lighting and the potential impact of construction on endangered species.

“Based on past experiences and conversations with their consultants, I would expect they could come to our meeting with plans complete enough to go forward with the public hearing in October,” Mr. Boxberger said.

Plans show construction of the complex would be done in two phases, with a goal of finishing the project by the fall of 2017. During the Aug. 4 Planning Board meeting, Morgan representatives said a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement might be sought to make the project more affordable, Mr. Boxberger said.

The developer previously entered into a 10-year PILOT for its Preserve at Autumn Ridge project. Under the deal, it will pay 50 percent of full taxation for those years to taxing jurisdictions. If it attempts to negotiate a similar deal, approval would be needed from Jefferson County, the town of Watertown and the Watertown City School District.

“It was discussed that they may seek a PILOT, and it will be up to their consultants to look into it,” Mr. Boxberger said.

Mr. Boxberger said the Planning Board was receptive to the developer’s plan to build an access road to Salmon Run Mall Loop.

“That’s something we’ve wanted for many years,” he said. “The town board has sought to have the connection between County Route 202 and Salmon Run Mall. The mall wants the connector road and has dedicated an access point for the site. People from the mall would have access to Walmart, or vice versa, without going onto Route 3.”

Planning Board members also questioned during the meeting whether Morgan would have enough demand to fill all of its planned townhouses, Mr. Boxberger said. He said they were satisfied with the developer’s response.

“The question was presented to them, but they’ve done market studies that show there is demand for that type of housing,” he said.

Morgan’s decision to continue building townhouses comes as Preserve at Autumn Ridge is filling up fast with tenants. The developer finished the first 242-unit construction phase about two months ahead of schedule in late July, and all of those units are full.

The second phase, of 152 units, is under construction and some of those townhouses will be ready to move in as early as September. As of Wednesday, about 75 pre-leasing agreements already have been signed for those units, said Noel N. Barefield, property manager for Morgan. All are expected to be ready by next June.

Deputy Town Clerk Pamela D. Desormo, who serves as a Planning Board member, said she expects Morgan’s proposed project to achieve similar success.

“They’ve been very good to work with and have always done everything they said they were going to do,” she said. “We have no doubt this will be a positive addition to the town of Watertown.”

Morgan bought the parcel in January from Alexandria Bay developer P.J. Simao for $1,250,000, according to Jefferson County property records.

Kevin J. Morgan, the developer’s vice president, did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

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