LANSING, N.Y.—A development team has its eye set on converting a workplace setting to workforce housing at the TransAct Technologies plant in the Village of Lansing.
A joint session of the village of Lansing Board of Trustees and village Planning Board convened Monday night to hear details of the proposal for 20 Bomax Drive. The board must consider the project itself, as well as the specialty Planned Development Area (PDA) the development would require to move forward.
As shared by project architect and former Cornell professor Aleksandr Mergold, the plan would reuse a significant portion of the TransAct plant, a one-story, 75,825 square-foot facility that was built and expanded in the late 1990s and early 2000s respectively. The plant and the 7.54 acres of land it sits on were sold to a downstate-based LLC for $5.6 million in March 2022. It is unclear if or where TransAct operations will be moving.
The property is located in a part of the county that has seen significant interest from both growing businesses and multifamily homebuilders in the past several years. The location on Bomax Drive is just east of the 140-unit East Pointe Apartments complex that opened in 2019, and just north of the 18,000 square-foot DairyOne office and research building built at 720 Warren Road in 2015.
“The idea is to take the existing factory building and essentially convert it to a high-density residential area, with a number of units, with an interior parking garage inside what is now the factory, covered by an open structure that is a public deck, and surrounded by areas and amenities,” Mergold said.
Mergold explained that the footprint of the factory will be “more or less” the footprint of the proposed buildings, “in line with the idea that an existing building is a resource that behooves us to reuse, rather than demolishing and building new.”
As described both in project documents and by Mergold during the joint session, the project would consist of a mix of market-rate and workforce (typically defined as aimed at people making 80%-120% of area median income) housing, with exact mixes and unit counts to still be determined.
The approximate working number for total units at this time is about 225-250, ranging from studios to three-bedroom units, in a mixture of six three-story and four-story multifamily structures. The buildings would reuse the perimeter wall of the existing TransAct plant, encircling a parking deck with a landscaped terrace roof for residents. Additional parking would be paved along portions outside the building perimeter, and a courtyard is planned on the northeast side of the complex. The outer edge of the property would host green space and amenities such as basketball and tennis courts.
The current zoning of the parcel is Business Technology District (BTD), which does not allow three- or four-story residential buildings, and none of the existing zones in the village allow the housing density sought for this proposal. The project keeps the yard setbacks of the original factory, and the developers are considering parking options at 1.25 to 1.5 spaces per unit. The design of the complex has a modern industrial aesthetic with a mixture of materials, though as always in these early stages, the design details are likely to be finessed and revised as plans are fleshed out and reviewed.
Members of the Village of Lansing Planning Board and Board of Trustees asked a number of initial questions regarding the housing mix, the availability of sewer line capacity (“first come, first serve,” per village code officers), and the height of the pair of buildings (35 to 45 feet). Members were open to the concept of the redevelopment, though cautious, with several noting that analyses of impacts would need to be thorough, especially given the need for the PDA zoning. In order to receive a PDA, the village would have to perceive clear benefits from letting the project be built, members noted.
Planning Board member Lisa Schleelein stressed that she would want a mandatory minimum number of workforce housing units in exchange for approvals of the project, should things advance to that point.
“You get halfway through and you find out it costs more than expected […] affordable housing, or workforce housing, per the Comprehensive Plan, is really an important goal for the village,” Schleelein said.
“It’s up to you, but I think you can arrange for it in the PDA,” responded Mergold.
John Courtney, the Superintendent of Public Works, stressed that not just sewer but a water line capacity analysis would likely be necessary, along with the usual traffic studies required for any larger project going through Site Plan Review.
With caution noted, village Mayor Ronny Hardaway asked if the Board of Trustees were willing to vote to let the project proceed with submission of further materials in preparation for a PDA application to the Board of Trustees, and standard Planning Board Site Plan Review. It wasn’t an approval of the project or the PDA, but it was an explicit nod that the Boards were willing to consider the proposal and the specialty zoning needed to make it happen.
“I would be okay with it. I saw what I needed to see,” replied Trustee Wolfgang Bullmer. With little further discussion, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to send the development team to the Planning Board to establish a framework for the project review of the project and the PDA zoning.