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Developer urges city to build Stateway Plaza road

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Patrick M. Donegan still has hopes of attracting a big-box retailer to City Center Plaza on Arsenal Street.

But the Alexandria Bay developer insisted he will need help from the city if it’s ever going to happen in his development near Interstate 81.

Mr. Donegan wants to meet with the Watertown City Council to talk about how the city could help attract a national retailer to 24 acres of land on the north end of the property. He wants to see if council members would agree to go ahead with plans for a yet-to-be-constructed road along the western section of Stateway Plaza.

On Tuesday, he repeated his stance that national retailers would commit to coming to the development site only if it had a separate entrance from the planned road.

“I’m pretty certain something would happen there, maybe not tomorrow, but in the near future,” he said, predicting it would happen in a year or two if the road existed.

Discussed for years, the road, which would be called Western Boulevard, has been put on the back burner by city officials. Mr. Donegan said he is convinced that if the road were built extending from the entrance to nearby Stateway Plaza, he could attract a retailer to that site.

Because of its expected costs, council members have held off building the road. In 2008, the city estimated the connector road between Arsenal and Coffeen streets would cost $6 million.

At Monday’s budget session, Councilman Joseph M. Butler said the developer recently contacted him about arranging a meeting with the City Council. He suggested first taking a tour of the site, possibly at the June 11 work session, and then meeting with the developer at City Hall afterward to discuss the situation.

“We certainly owe that to Mr. Donegan and his family for all they’ve done for the city,” Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns said.

To prepare the 24-acre site, Mr. Donegan recently had a contractor install a second water retention pond at a cost of $250,000, making it “shovel ready.” It would serve the plaza if the big-box store were ever built.

Mr. Donegan continues to market City Center Plaza to potential tenants. Later this month, he will head to Las Vegas for a national trade show of developers and retailers to see whether he can sign tenants for the 24 acres or about a half-dozen vacant pad sites on the property.

He would not identify possible tenants or what type of retailer might be interested in the 24 acres or other developable sites.

“I’m competing with five other developers, so I don’t want to say,” he said.

But Mr. Donegan looks forward to his latest tenant, Chipotle Mexican Grill, opening in the same 5,000-square-foot building as the Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant. Work began on the 2,300-square-foot interior a couple of weeks ago. He said he expects the popular Colorado-based Mexican restaurant, which boasts gourmet burritos and tacos, to open in mid-June or July.

It will join Buffalo Wild Wings, Ruby Tuesday, Starbucks, AT&T and Ponderosa already there. A 132-room Hilton Garden Inn opened there last year and a Holiday Inn Express is the other anchor.

So far, Mr. Donegan has about $29 million invested in City Center Plaza. It has created about 350 jobs.

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