Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer met with University of Rochester President Joel Seligman and Mayor Tom Richards to announce his campaign to secure federal assistance for the College Town development project. Over a garbage plate lunch, Schumer outlined his plan to secure a low-interest, $20 million federal loan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He also announced a new push to secure several million dollars in federal New Market Tax Credits to help finance the building project that will create nearly 1,000 construction jobs, as well as nearly 600 permanent jobs. The College Town developers have been pursuing federal tax credits with a number of banks and community development organizations. Today Schumer issued his support to these organizations for the College Town project so that federal tax credits can potentially be allocated to what will be the next major development project for the City of Rochester.
"College Town is the type of project that doesn't come along every day, so we need to grab the bull by the horns," said Schumer. "Opportunities to create hundreds of jobs don't grow on trees, but this one is ripe for the picking. College Town will create hundreds of jobs, bring new businesses into Rochester, and give college students and neighborhood residents a new place to go in the City. I am proud to back the City and University of Rochester's plans to develop the area, and am going to push to bring federal aid to this key project that deserves our support. The University of Rochester and the City are doing their part, and the federal government has a chance to help out without burdening the taxpayer. It should seize the moment and get on board with this groundbreaking development."
Schumer said today that he is backing the city's efforts to secure a loan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for $20 million. The loan, which would be paid back in full and would therefore be no burden to taxpayers, would be a low interest loan, being repaid at a 1% rate or lower. The loan would come from HUD's Section 108 program within the Community Development Block Grant program. These loans are designed to help finance economic development projects on a large scale. In Congressional Committee hearings and conversations in the weeks to come, Schumer said he would push HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to approve this loan that is critical to the project's success and fits squarely within the Section 108 program's mission. Schumer will also push for HUD to complete its approval reviews on a timely basis since the project timeline calls for the groundbreaking to occur this fall before winter weather hits Rochester.
Also during today's meeting, Schumer told President Seligman and Mayor Richards that he would support the developers' efforts to secure federal New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) for the project, which would help leverage private investment and jump-start the construction efforts. The NMTC program was created ten years ago in order to spur new business development and real estate projects. In exchange for investing in qualifying projects, individual investors and corporations can receive a tax credit on their federal income tax return, creating an incentive for individuals to invest. The federal tax credits are allocated to banks and other organizations, who then review applications and award the tax credits to investors for specific projects. The College Town developers are seeking a $30 million New Markets Tax Credit allocation, which would result in a net $5.5 million credit investment for the project. Schumer told Seligman and Richards that he would go to bat for this project with New York banks that have tax credits to award.
During the meeting, Schumer, Seligman and Richards discussed the numerous benefits that the project would provide to the University of Rochester, the City, and local residents. The project is expected to create 985 construction jobs, as well as an additional 582 jobs that would generate a payroll of over $26 million each year. The project will include a Barnes and Noble book store, grocery store, mixed retail shops and restaurants as well as office and residential space. Developers hope to break ground on the project in November of this year, with construction expected to take two additional years. The plans also include a hotel and conference center, as well as a Regional Transit Service (RTS) Satellite Bus Transfer Station. In January, Schumer announced an $800,000 Federal Transit Administration grant to RTS to help fund the construction of this new College Town bus station. As the area's largest employer and RTS' second largest demand generator for service, the bus station will provide convenient access to the thousands of UR employees and students, as well as travelers to the hospital medical center.
"College Town is one of the most forward thinking, synergistic development plans on tap in Upstate New York," continued Schumer. "It's time to take that plan, and make it reality."