Common Council hears presentation on proposal for Dietz lot

Shweta Karikehalli | The Daily Star Ken Kearney, a representative of Parkview Development & Construction, speaks about the proposed development of the "Lofts on Dietz Street" project at Common Council on Tuesday night  

Oneonta Common Council Chambers were packed full Tuesday night as constituents awaited a presentation by Ken Kearney of Parkview Development and Construction on the proposed “Lofts on Dietz Street” project.

The proposed building would take the space of approximately 50 parking spaces in the Dietz Street parking lot, Mayor Gary Herzig told The Daily Star on July 1. Of the 64 housing units, 40 would be affordable artist lofts and the remainder would be affordable middle-income housing.

The council at its July 2 meeting confirmed its intent to authorize the sale of a portion of the Dietz Street parking lot to Parkview as the preferred developer of the mixed-use building.

Kearney spoke about the artist certification committee, which would determine tenants' eligibility to reside in the special artist housing.

When asked how the definition of artist would be decided, Kearney produced a statement that read "an individual who practices one of the fine design, graphic, musical, literary, computer or performing arts, culinary arts, or an individual whose profession relies on the application of the above-mentioned skills, to produce creative product, i.e., an architect, crafts person, photographer, etc. All these creative products are defined as art."

When asked what would happen if a tenant occupying an artist loft doesn't fulfill the definition of an artist anymore but still wants to remain in that loft, Kearney responded that he hasn't dealt with that scenario with past development projects. He said if that was the case, the tenant would go in front of the artist certification committee and possibly move into one of the non-artist units instead. 

When asked what happened to the proposed development of the Westcott Lot, Herzig replied that funds were transferred to developing the Dietz Street lot instead because the size of the Westcott lot was found too small to incentivize developers to build there and there wasn't much community support for developing at that site either.  

Kearney also spoke about his desire to extend Parkview's footprint upstate.

“This is the right project, in the right location, at the right time,” Kearney said.

In other business, the council:

• Heard public comments concerning an ordinance that will be signed into law Wednesday, July 17, to amend Chapter 86 of the city code, "Building Construction” and repealing Chapter 158, “The Housing Code.” This ordinance would bring the city into alignment with the provisions of the state building codes and provide for consistency with the state codes as they are amended in the future.

• Heard public comments concerning an ordinance that will be signed into law Wednesday, July 17, to add a new chapter to the city code, designated as Chapter 217 and called “Blighted Property Abatement,” that would identify, abate and eliminate the presence of blight upon properties throughout the city.

• Authorized the mayor to submit an application for funding consideration for equipment purchases related to the proposed Hartwick College Grain Innovation Center, which would be located on the ground floor of the proposed “Lofts on Dietz Street” project.

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.