Town signs PILOT agreements for four properties

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The Amherst Town Board approved four payment-in-lieu of-taxes agreements for the rehabilitation of four affordable housing apartment buildings at its meeting Aug. 23.

The properties include Brewster Mews Apartments at 945 Robin Road, Oxford Village Townhouses at 42 Oxford Ave., Parkside Houses Apartments at 925 Robin Road and Princeton Court Apartments at 165 Princeton Ave.

Representatives from MJ Peterson and the Related Companies presented their plans to the board at a special Aug. 17 town board meeting.

According to Related’s website, Stephen M. Ross is the chairman and founder of Related Companies, based in New York City. Ross formed Related in 1972. He is also the owner of the Miami Dolphins.

Related plans to buy and renovate the four affordable housing complexes in Amherst with over 1,000 apartments in a series of transactions totaling $155 million.

As part of the agreement, current owner M.J. Peterson Corp. will remain a 50% owner and continue to manage the properties.

Related is asking for the Amherst Industrial Development Agency for nearly $3 million in sales tax breaks to make the projects financially viable.

“This project is actually four very large projects rolled into one macro-level project,” Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa said. “We started talking about this project a year and a half ago. Forty seven percent of the town’s affordable housing would be touched by these projects.”

Related’s Senior Vice President Deep Katdare laid out each property’s proposed renovation plan to the board.

“Brewster Mews is a 216- unit 100% senior affordable housing apartment building built in 1978,” Katdare said. “We are planning $58,000 of rehab per unit for a total cost of $42 million. We will be adapting 10 units to be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, along with complete remodels of each unit and upgrading security.”

Katdare said the PILOT is needed for financial viability and that the rehabilitation of all four sites would allow for a 40-year affordability regulatory agreement, meaning the apartments would remain an affordable housing building for 40 years.

“We will be retaining all current staff and adding one resident coordinator position as well as building a new community building,” Katdare said.

Oxford Village is a 316-unit affordable housing building built in 1946. Its last renovation was in 1986.

“We plan to spend $60,000 per unit in rehabilitation here with a total cost of $56 million,” Katdare said.

Parkside Houses is a 180-unit one- to four-bedroom affordable housing apartment building constructed in 1974.

Katdare told the board that Related plans to do $63,000 in rehabilitation per unit with a total rehab cost to the building of $29-$30 million.

“Roughly $3 million of exterior work has already been done to the building,” Katdare said. “Nine units would be made ADA compliant and the property would share the new community room with Brewster Mews.”

Princeton Court is a 304-unit affordable housing apartment building built in 1949. The renovation there would be $72,000 per unit with a total cost of $47 million for the property’s rehab. Sixteen units would be made ADA compliant and Related plans a new community building there as well.

“We are also planning to build new roadways for better access for emergency vehicles,” Katdare said. “All the sites will have on-site relocation while construction is going on so no residents will be relocated off site.”

The proposal and request for PILOTs got the approval of the town’s planning department.

“This will make the developments better for the residents,” Associate Planner Laurie Stillwell said. “With the massive gut rehabs and additional improvements the town asked for, this makes up almost half of the town’s affordable housing units in exchange for PILOTs.”

The town requested improvements to landscaping and adding things like courtyards, benches and playgrounds to public spaces. The plan will also update building signage at the sites.

“All of these projects combined is a good financial situation for the town to be in,” Town Attorney Stanley Sliwa said. “The PILOTs I think are very fair and meet the county requirements.”

All four projects would be financed with 4% low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds from the New York State Housing Finance Agency.

“These are very worthwhile projects and would bring an unprecedented amount of funding that the state is bringing to the table,” Kulpa said.

Published by The Amherst Bee

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