California developer plans to submit townhouses proposal in LeRay

A development with 150-plus rental townhouses will be built off Route 11 outside Fort Drum if LeRay town officials approve a California developer’s plan.

The Common at Fleming’s Farm may be built on the parcel north of Eagle Ridge Village. Fidelity American Holdings Corp. bought 347 acres of property for development in 2005, but it now has the pieces in place to move forward with its project, said principal Linda W. Luther.

The property is on the north side of Taylor Road, a mile-long connector that is expected to be completed by the spring of 2014.

It will link Johnson Road at the Walmart intersection to Kestrel Drive, which will branch north from Eagle Ridge Village.

Fidelity is seeking to break ground on the project in September, Ms. Luther said, with the first modular units finished by the end of 2013. Under the plan, the project could be finished by the summer of 2014.

Though plans for the project will be submitted to the town “in a few days,” she said, some of the financing needed from local agencies still needs to be secured.

“We have secured local investment, and we look forward to participation from local financial institutions and local vendors to assist us,” she said. “This will be an upscale community for our soldiers’ families, and we are proposing a homeownership segment and retail segment” on the property.

Ms. Luther declined to provide details regarding the space allotted for commercial property, but town officials said it will likely be on the frontage of Taylor Road, with the subdivision farther north.

The town homes will have two to four bedrooms, but Ms. Luther did not specify the rental prices.

Fidelity’s plan for the multifamily housing project comes after Albany developer Dawn Homes last March scrapped its project also planned on Taylor Road, which would have been to the immediate east on property owned by Columbia Development, Albany. Ms. Luther purchased the property from Lyle C. and Eleanor B. Fleming, dairy farmers there for 44 years, for whom the development has been named. Single-family houses were originally planned for the site, Ms. Luther said, but that plan was altered because Fidelity decided it wouldn’t be economically feasible.

The townhouse project was spurred in the spring of 2012, Ms. Luther said, when the town decided to move ahead with its Taylor Road project. Fidelity met with officials from Fort Drum and LeRay in November to discuss the project, and the developer was urged to move swiftly with its plan. Aubertine & Currier Architects, Watertown, has developed the plans and Con Tech Building Systems, Gouverneur, is the planned general contractor.

“We understand the need for this project to get out of the ground as soon as possible,” Ms. Luther said. “We are aggressively pursuing breaking ground in September, and we expect demand there to be huge. Our timeline is to be 100 percent occupied by the spring of 2014.”

That timeline could be somewhat unrealistic because Fidelity has not shown the town it has conducted state-required environmental studies, town planner Jessica L. Jenack said. In the best-case scenario, the Planning Board won’t review the developer’s conceptual plan until April.

“They have done some studies, but I don’t know if they cover the whole project,” she said.

From the town’s perspective, the multifamily development is a project that falls in line with its Route 11 corridor plan to develop connector roads in the area, said Steven T. Harter, administrative clerk to the LeRay supervisor.

“The town welcomes this type of development, but we have yet to see any real specific details,” Mr. Harter said. “This project lends itself well to the town’s overall plan because it connects to Route 11, Route 342 and our commercial district.”

-Ted Booker, Watertown Daily Times staff writer