Developer Ken Kearney presented more information on Downtown Oneonta's proposed Art Space development project called "Lofts on Dietz Street" to a full room at Oneonta's Common Council meeting last evening.

Speaking on the impact such a project has had in other similar upstate New York communities, Kearney says, “We built our Peekskill buildings in a blighted area with high poverty rate and crime,” he said. “No one walked there at any time of day. We were the first investment in about 50 years. When it opened last year, there were people walking up and down Main Street. A coffee shop and restaurant have opened up.”

At last night's meeting Mayor Gary Herzig spoke of Hartwick College's intention to utilize space in the Lofts for their new “grains innovation program,” in which they test out hops, barley, and other beer brewing grains.

The Lofts on Dietz Street project was approved by the city two weeks ago.  The project by Parkview Development & Construction, Inc., which Kearney and his son, Sean, co-own, will consist of a 64-unit, mixed-used building on Dietz Street. Forty units will be designated for artists and 24 for “middle-income” renters. With the assistance of a middle-income program from Governor Cuomo, Kearney explained that the middle-income unit renters would be getting a 25% break on rent so that they have more income to spend at local businesses, resulting in an improved local economy.

Audience members at the meeting raised parking concerns since the development project would eliminate 50 of the spaces in the Dietz lot, however Mayor Herzig responded by noting that a study had been done on available parking spaces which showed that Oneonta had “an abundance of parking spaces”. In addition, renters at The Loft on Dietz will have the option of leasing parking in the municipal parking garage, a space that some meeting attendees expressed as “unsafe, dingy, and dark.”

Kearney will present his “Lofts on Dietz Street” proposal at the city’s Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, July 18 at 7 p.m. in Common Council Chambers.

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