July 2016: Business Briefcase

MEDIA

Community Broadcasters expands into Florida

Watertown-based Community Broadcasters, LLC, has purchased four signals from Apex Broad Broadcasting, Inc., in the Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Fla., market and filed for transfer of the licenses pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission in June. [Read more…]

Developer urges city lawmakers to build Stateway Plaza road

Patrick M. Donegan heard rumors that City Council members are not interested in spending the money to construct a connector road that would go through the parking lot of Stateway Plaza.

So the Alexandria Bay developer showed up at Monday night’s meeting to lobby the Watertown City Council to move forward with the project that has been talked about for years.

“I’m getting impatient and nervous,” he said.

He reminded council members that they promised to construct the road before he invested $30 million in Watertown City Center, where the Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Express, Ruby Tuesday and other retailers are located.

In recent years, several high-end retailers also have shown an interest in the last remaining vacant land at the development site, off Arsenal Street and near Interstate 81, he said. But the big-box retailers all have said the same thing — they won’t come unless the road is constructed, he said.

“You’re going to get a return on your investment,” he said. “It’s not a loser.”

After hearing what the developer had to say, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said council members were planning to discuss the matter in executive session later in the night.

Before the closed-door session began, City Attorney James A. Burrows declined comment about the status of acquiring the needed property from plaza owners Ben Wygodny and Martin Wenger, both of Montreal.

Six weeks ago, Mr. Burrows said the city might initiate eminent domain proceedings to obtain the land needed for the project after the owners failed to respond to city’s requests to purchase it for $345,000.

In June, Mr. Burrows said he was preparing to start the proceedings.

The City Council has been divided on the issue. The road would connect Arsenal Street through the Stateway Plaza parking lot to Gaffney Drive at the northern end.

But Mr. Donegan reminded council members that the city annexed a portion of the Watertown City Center site from the town, so he could develop the property.

For that portion of the site, his development has generated 390 jobs, $5 million in sales taxes and $4 million in property taxes for Jefferson County, he said.

Critics expressed concern about the exorbitant cost of building the road. The most recent projection came in at $1.75 million.

By Craig Fox, Times Staff Writer