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Oswego Trustees OK Village Purchase of Downtown Land

Nov 29, 2016 08:17PM ● Published by Steven Jack

The village is set to close on the former Alexander Lumber property by the end of 2016.

If all goes according to plan, the village of Oswego soon will become the owners of the former Alexander Lumber lot that has sat vacant in the downtown for over 10 years. 

In a special Village Board meeting Tuesday night, trustees agreed 6-0 to purchase the 2.3-acre property for $1.49 million contingent on the satisfactory completion of environmental tests on the land. The sale could be complete by the end of the year. 

Despite unanimous support from Trustees, three residents who attended the meeting questioned whether the village should be getting into the real estate business. Village Administrator Dan Di Santo laid out several reasons the village should purchase the property. 

First, he said past attempts at development on the property have failed because developers couldn't secure loans given the land's $1.75 million price tag and any loan would be contingent upon Village Board approval of any planned development. 

Second, Di Santo said the village is motivated to develop the property, and if the property were purchased by a developer they could let it sit vacant for an even longer period. 

Third, by becoming the property owner the village has even more control over what is developed on the land, Di Santo said. 

With the formation of a Tax Increment Finance District in September that is meant to jumpstart downtown development, the parcel is seen by village officials as key to the success of downtown rehabilitation. Any development on the site is likely to include retail, office space, residential and parking, officials have said.

"This parcel is a lynchpin parcel to the success of our downtown, and that can't be stated enough," Di Santo said. "If there is one development that could change the face of downtown Oswego, this is it."

Di Santo also confirmed that several developers have shown interest in the property over the past year. 

During the public comment portion of Tuesday night's special meeting resident Russell Pietrowiak questioned whether the village is paying too much for the land. 

Di Santo said the agreed upon $1.49 million price was a compromise reached between the village and the Alexander family. An Alexander appraisal showed the property to be worth $1.6 million, while the village appraisal showed $1.35 million. 

The village will pay for the purchase with funds held in reserves. Di Santo said the village should recoup the cost in the sale of its current police station. 

The village is in the midst of building a new $30 million police station on Woolley Road, and Di Santo said there has already been interest from buyers seeking to purchase the current Route 34 facility. It has been appraised at $1.5 million, Di Santo said.

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