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November 16, 2012

Project stalls SUCO housing plans

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — The plans of a private developer to build student apartments near the State University College at Oneonta were a factor in the college’s postponing its townhouse development plans, a college spokesman said Thursday.

The complex that was to open in 2014 was projected to house nearly 200 students on Clinton Street.

The developer, identified as Newman Development Group LLC, headquartered in Vestal, met with college officials last week. As a result, SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski said in a media release issued Thursday: “We determined it would be prudent to postpone this project indefinitely.”

Building costs, funding challenges and the proposal were all factors, she said. The apartment complex would be on land near the Hunt Union, she said.

Mayor Dick Miller said the site under consideration is at the top of Blodgett Drive.

Four developers have been talking about different project in different areas to meet the college’s needs, he said. Although the plans are still only in the talking stages, the one by Newman Development is furthest along.

Miller deferred any specifics about it to the developer.

“I’m certainly in favor of any development that’s within our zoning plan,” he said.

Newman Development Vice President Jeffrey R. Smetana said at this point the plans are still pretty preliminary: “We are not in a position to talk about it yet.”

The prototype is similar to Twin River Commons, an off-campus student house housing complex for Binghamton University students. Newman previously developed the 720-bed University Plaza project also near Binghamton University. The company has offices in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

I’ve been looking at Oneonta for a couple of years, Smetana said. The goal is to open for the 2014 academic year, but it is too early in the process to know how realistic that is, he said.

“We’ve welcomed and appreciated input on the townhouse proposal from members of the community,” SUNY Oneonta communications director Hal Legg said in the release.

That project was planned in response to the college’s 2010 New Student Housing Program Study, which concluded that the campus could support about 600 additional beds. The college will revisit its assessment of housing needs as the developer’s plans progress. Work on other construction projects on campus will continue as planned.