Dueling Downtown Utica Development Plans

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City Announced Intent to Build Hotel On Top Of Kennedy Parking Garage

UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) – In somewhat of a surprise announcement, Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri announced that the city has accepted an offer from The Pike Company and Bowers Development to purchase the Kennedy Parking Garage for $1.5 million dollars. In the announcement by the city it was noted that he most recent estimate to repair the Kennedy Garage was put at $13 million dollars. The deal proposed by Pike and Bowers calls for the builder and developer to handle needed repairs to the Kennedy Parking Garage and the construction of the hotel on top of the garage.

A release by the Mohawk Valley Health System indicates that the city’s move came as a surprise.

“For the last several years, MVHS has been working with the City of Utica and Oneida County on the development of a hospital campus in downtown Utica as well as the revitalization of the downtown area itself. We have been transparent in our plans with our partners and have maintained open lines of communication to ensure that we are keeping them updated on progress or any potential issues or changes that may be needed to our initial plans.

Therefore, MVHS was surprised to learn on Monday that a press release would be issued by the City relating to the sale of the Kennedy Parking Garage to The Pike Company and Bowers Development for the development of a hotel over the Kennedy Garage. The Kennedy Parking Garage is connected to the former Mohawk Hospital Equipment (Mohawk Building), now owned by MVHS, which is being converted to serve as the new hospital’s Central Utility Plant.”

MVHS says that they have already invested $12 million in fixing up the former Mohawk Hospital Equipment building on Columbia Street. They also stated that when they purchased the building, that is attached to the Kennedy Garage by a common wall, MVHS maintained “certain air rights over portions of the Kennedy Garage.”

MVHS went on to say in their release:

“We believe that the proposed development of a hotel in that location will be very complex and costly, and could negatively impact the hospital’s Central Utility Plant. In addition, we are concerned about the impact that the proposed Pike and Bowers development could have on the availability of parking as outlined in a Memorandum of Agreement signed by all parties.”

In the City of Utica announcement, the city states that revenue generated by the sale of the garage to Pike and Bowers, along with the cost saved on repairs to the garage, “…would yield a nearly $15 million benefit to Utica taxpayers. In addition, selling Kennedy will put the property on the tax rolls, which expands the city’s tax base.”

The city also noted another aspect of the deal that involves downtown parking:

“In conversations with MVHS officials, the new hospital will also utilize parking in the city-owned Washington Street Parking Garage (Washington Street). A portion of the money the city will save from selling Kennedy will be redirected to fully repair Washington Street.”

The Washington Street Garage is attached to the Delta by Marriott Hotel in downtown and has been undergoing structural repairs.

The deal unveiled Thursday is not yet a lock. So far, only the City of Utica Urban Renewal Agency has approved the application from Pike and Bowers. That proposal must next go to the Utica Common Council. There would also be a public comment period before the Council would vote on final approval.

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