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College student housing project proceeds in Potsdam

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A proposal to build cottages for college students is proceeding with a St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency public hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. July 5 in the Potsdam Civic Center.

“What this does is provide a modern housing option that allows Potsdam to remain competitive,” IDA Executive Director Patrick J. Kelly said. “It will ultimately be on the tax base.”

The project, by developer Affinity Potsdam Cottages, would build in two phases up to 100 units of student housing over 20 acres near 206 Main St. The construction, which includes the building of roads and other improvements, meets the IDA’s strategy of using the area’s colleges as drivers of economic development, in this case through housing, Mr. Kelly said.

Each unit would include three bedrooms and likely appeal to SUNY Potsdam students because of its location near the school.

Providing options for student living is important in keeping up with what other colleges have and these would be a commercial venture compared to an on-campus dormitory, Mr. Kelly said.

The proposal includes a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement that must be approved by the village, town and Potsdam Central School Board of Education.

The PILOT, with a fixed monetary schedule so that payments are known, would be based on a full assessed valuation of $5.5 million. The first year payment would begin at 65 percent of what the taxes would be at full value and increase at a fixed rate annually for up to 12 years.

During the term of the PILOT, the IDA would hold title to the property and lease it back to Affinity Potsdam Cottages.

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