Tuesday, January 14, 2014

[UPDATED] Warren gets credit for Costco deal

Posted By on Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 4:58 PM

[UPDATED 7:45 p.m.] During tonight's meeting, the County Legislature approved measures authorizing borrowing for a slew of county projects, including the relocation of the children's detention center.

Original post: Mayor Lovely Warren has faced intense scrutiny lately over her security detail, but she now has a political win on the books, too.

During a press conference this afternoon, Warren, County Executive Maggie Brooks, and leaders of the County Legislature's Republican and Democratic caucuses announced the likely end to an impasse in the Legislature.

Democrats have been blocking a large borrowing package in an attempt to leverage Republican support for a Legislature-led review of county-linked local development corporations. But the tactical move had an unanticipated consequence: it threatened a project necessary to clear the way for a highly trumpeted Costco store at the CityGate site.

But during this afternoon's press conference, Democratic Minority Leader Carrie Andrews said that she will vote for the borrowing measure after all when the Legislature meets tonight. And enough Democrats will join her — including Legislator Willie Joe Lightfoot — that it should pass, she said. Passing the plan allows Costco and CityGate to proceed. 

The Costco project ultimately depends on some site prep work, which is where the county's children's detention center comes into play. The center is located on the CityGate site at Westfall and East Henrietta roads, and it needs to be demolished so preparations for Costco can get going. 

The county will move the youth housed at the center to renovated space at the Industry Residential Center campus in Rush — an arrangement negotiated by county and state officials. The Brooks administration wants to borrow $9 million so the county can reimburse the state for the renovations, buy the site from the state, and add on to the new facility.

The detention center project wasn't part of the borrowing package when Democrats initially decided to block the plan, Andrews said. 

Andrews said Legislature Democrats support the detention center relocation and the Costco project, the latter of which will result in living wage jobs and construction jobs.

At today's press conference, Warren repeatedly received credit for helping break the impasse. Brooks, Andrews, Republican Majority Leader Steve Tucciarello, Empire State Development's Finger Lakes Regional Director Vinnie Esposito, and developer Anthony Costello all said Warren played a key role.

Warren said the resolution reflects a renewed sense of partnership between the city and the county. And she thanked Andrews for taking another look at the situation and understanding the importance of the jobs that were on the line. Warren said she'd previously met with Costello to learn about the project and had met with Brooks and Andrews regarding the impasse.

"We all recognize the urgency to move this project forward," Brooks said.

CityGate developer Anthony Costello said the timeline will be tight, but if the county can move the children out of the existing detention center within the next week or two, he should be able to meet Costco's deadlines. The company wants a clear site to build on by June, he said, and plans to open the store at the start of October.

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