County IDA Approves Busti Senior Housing Lease

BUSTI – A massive senior housing project is in the works on a 12-acre parcel in the town of Busti with developers hopeful for a September ground-breaking.

At the monthly meeting of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, the board of directors unanimously approved acquisition and straight leasing of a project for Calamar Enterprises of Wheatfield.

Kevin Sanvidge, executive director for the IDA, described the agreement as a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes program.

“This is a great project and a great opportunity,” he said. “The fact that they chose Chautauqua County as a place to build is terrific. It will attract more people to the county, and increasing the population will have an impact on the economy.”

The company still pays a fee to the agency, which is further disbursed to local taxing jurisdictions, but saves money in the process for a period of time.

Furthermore, board members were optimistic about how a State Environmental Quality Review, or SEQR, had been performed on the property and did not find any negative impacts in terms of environmental disturbance.

In this case, Calamar will pay 10 percent, or $38,000 of the original tax amount on the land for the 116-unit apartment complex with increases occurring every two years.

“I think it’s encouraging that the IDA makes available these types of options so that they can serve the middle income seniors in their community,” said Jocelyn Bos, director of senior housing development for Calamar. Bos attended the meeting with Ben Gustafson, civil engineer for the project with Hunt Engineers Architects and Surveyors of Rochester.

Rent levels for the one- and two-bedroom apartments have yet to be determined, but will fall into a range of $805-$825 per month plus electric for one bedroom units, and $950-$1,050 per month for two bedroom units, plus electric. All residents must be over the age of 55. The majority of the units will be two-bedroom apartments.

Gustafson and Bos explained the next steps for the complex, which will be located on Southwestern Drive across from Southwestern Central School.

“We made an initial concept presentation to the Busti Planning Board earlier this month and discussed the project, then came back for an official meeting with the board and issued a recommendation to the zoning board to proceed with the project,” Gustafson said. “Now, it’s in the zoning board’s hands.”

Gustafson and Bos met with the zoning board on Wednesday night where they set a public hearing for a final meeting and public comment on Aug. 20, after which a final vote will take place in September.

Real estate appraisal company Gar Associates Inc. performed a study on the potential for a senior living development and found projected growth in the 55 and over housing market in the next five years, making Calamar’s project appropriate.

Additionally, an increase of more than 15 percent was indicated in terms of renter population, with an increase in population of 11.36 percent between 2009-14 for seniors aged 62 and above.

Calamar owns eight other senior housing developments with five in New York and three in Nebraska.