OSWEGO — Demolition crews tore down the remains of the former Mid-town Plaza parking garage Wednesday, and developers say the remaining structure that once housed storefronts and restaurants will come down later this summer to make way for the five-story East Lake Commons mixed-use development.
The East Lake Commons project is a $25.4 million, 75,270 square foot mixed-use space that developers say will contain 70 apartments, as well as commercial space. Funded in part through $10 million in state Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) funds awarded to Oswego in 2016, initial developer Sutton Real Estate stepped away from the project in late 2019. Rochester-based Home Leasing is now heading the project.
Home Leasing Development Manager Megan Houppert said the company closed on the property purchase in late March. Company officials said, in addition to the parking garage demolition, asbestos abatement is ongoing at the site to prepare for the razing of the main structure.
Major demolition is scheduled to occur over the summer when asbestos abatement is complete, according to Houppert. She previously said Home Leasing is anticipating approximately 18 months of construction, and if the project remains on track it would be finished in 2021.
“We’re really excited to start work and looking forward to being part of the community,” Houppert said earlier this year after the project received approval from the city Planning Board. “This has been a project that the community has really wanted to see done and we feel really privileged to step in at the end of the pre-development process and be the ones to actually start it.”
Port City planning officials approved the site plan for East Lake Commons earlier this year and Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow predicted the project would have significant positive benefits and help revive the east side of the Port City.
With the mid-town development moving forward, all the city’s original projects from the 2016 DRI are on the path to completion.
Barlow said the development would provide quality housing, and future residents of the building would generate increased economic activity in the area. East Lake Commons would also eliminate the crumbling shell that currently sits on the lot, he said, adding the development would “breathe new life into the east side” and improve the visual aesthetic of the state Route 104 corridor.
The design of the building is comprised of one- and two-bedroom apartment units, according to Syracuse-based Architecteam, which briefed planning board officials on the blueprints. The building design would take advantage of the city’s waterfront, with patios on the first floor and balcony areas around the building overlooking the Oswego River, Lake Ontario and downtown Oswego, Architecteam officials said.
The East Lake Commons exterior’s brick and fiber cement will attempt to match historical color schemes, with a “considerable amount of green space” in the heavily trafficked area.
Parking in the area was a main concern of city officials and nearby property owners during the planning process. The site plan calls for 20 of the 100 parking spaces to be available for public parking. The initial plan called for 30 public parking spaces, but the city made concessions as the scope of the project was altered and the total number of parking spots reduced.
The planning board added a stipulation to the site plan approval that would create additional parking spaces if parking were deemed to be an issue in the future. The city could force the developer to transform an area on the southern end of the development that’s currently sited as green space into another 12 to 14 parking spaces.
Construction work at the site has continued through the COVID-19 shutdown as the project was deemed essential by state officials due to its intent to provide affordable housing units.
75 South Clinton Avenue Suite 700
Rochester, NY 14604