Consultants see opportunities at former Rome Cable site
Nicole a hawley
A group of volunteer consultants from across the country completed four days of inspection and review of the Rome Cable Complex 4 site on Wednesday, concluding that the area has great potential for redevelopment and the need to involve the community in the process. .
Members of the CRE Consulting Corps of Counselors of Real Estate had been in Rome since Sunday to assess and provide expertise on the redevelopment of the former Rome Cable Complex.
Through a partnership with the Center for Creative Land Recycling and with the support of the CRE Foundation, the mission of Consulting Corps is to assist Rome Industrial Development Corp, Rome Brownfield Restoration Corporation and Mohawk Valley EDGE by bringing an impartial and objective perspective to identify priority investments to facilitate development, maximize the site and prepare it for commercialization.
Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo, members of the Rome Region Chamber of Commerce, other city officials and local business owners also participated in the discussions. The Counselors of Real Estate is an international, non-profit organization that includes executives from leading real estate, finance, legal and accounting firms, as well as developers, economists, futurists, and leaders from Wall Street and academia.
The Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR) is a non-profit organization dedicated to building local capacities for sustainable and equitable land reuse. It works directly with communities to transform contaminated properties that are underutilized and affected by the environment into community assets.
P. Barton DeLacy, Executive Director of Valuation & Advisory for Cushman & Wakefield, Seattle, Washington, explained that volunteers help identify possible beneficial uses of brownfields from an outside perspective, which eliminates any possible conflict of interest.
Volunteers help identify “the highest and best use” for brownfield, “look at all the alternatives and decide which would make the most sense” for that particular site, DeLacy said. âWe are also looking at the needs of the community.
Rome received a $ 10 million grant from New York in 2017 as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The city has identified five strategic city-owned sites within a 180-acre target redevelopment area in the urban core to catalyze investment and revitalize the city center, including the former Rome Cable site.
For more than 60 years, Rome Cable Corporation has designed, manufactured and supplied wire and cable products for the industrial, utility, commercial, original equipment, fire alarm, security, fire control and control markets. traffic and mining. The company closed its doors and liquidated all assets in 2003.
Designated a Superfund site, the $ 13 million cleanup was completed by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The site is the epicenter of the Erie Boulevard Brownfield Opportunity Zone (BOA), and Rome recently adopted a PILOT Incremental Finance District (PIF), providing an incentive for development.
Mohawk Valley EDGE has identified the following industries as targets for the site, such as advanced manufacturing, agribusiness / crafts, food and beverage, aviation, IT and nanotechnology. About 10 to 15 acres of the 40-acre former Rome Cable site are developable, officials said, and the rest are wetlands and would likely be dedicated open or recreational space.
While an industrial user previously occupied the site, DeLacy said the consultants also identified acres of green space in the area and wetlands – which can be an asset or a hindrance depending on the type of development possibly planned. In the region.
DeLacy pointed out that it is also a region rich in history, which is an asset that the city and the community may wish to showcase.
âRome has an incredible history. We’ve all heard of the Erie Canal, and that’s literally where it all started, âDeLacy said. Some city officials have already expressed interest in trying to preserve Rome’s cable tower “for historical purposes,” he added.
Jean Hamerman, executive director of the Center for Creative Land Recycling in Hudson, Columbia County, said she has worked in other cities where historic elements of the area “are incorporated into development designs” for the site.
Local residents who miss such historic elements on a daily basis may find them mundane and fail to see their potential, which is why an outside perspective is essential, DeLacy added.
DeLacy said some city officials have expressed interest in redeveloping Rome Cable as a “light industrial” zone, but warned that traffic and street infrastructure should be considered to accommodate the platforms. potential and inbound and outbound delivery trucks, as well as local residential traffic and noise.
DeLacy also visited the Mohawk River Trail on Wednesday morning and said the ‘backdrop’ of the property could be improved upon and would be ‘a wonderful nature walk or bike path’ that would not only make the area more attractive, but also attract people to the neighborhood.
âI have seen communities putting up elevated walkways ‘through wetlands’ or swampy areas so that people can come and observe wildlife and different natural features,â he said.
DeLacy said the consultants had not found a “definitive” use for the former Rome Cable site, but had listed several possibilities they were “still working on.”
âThere is one thing that would definitely not work for this site, and that is the accommodation,â he added.
Hamerman, whose company is helping redesign land for sustainable communities, said it would be imperative in the future for community members to give their opinion on how they would like to see the brownfield reallocated. âThis will be an ongoing process with EDGE, and I would love to see them get feedback from residents,â Hamerman said. “Nothing is finalized”, and obtaining the opinion of the public on possible future development projects “would be beneficial for the city in the redevelopment of this area”.
Joelle Greenland, also from the Center for Creative Land Recycling, said she was pleasantly surprised by the possibilities of the old complex.
“This is a site that needs a second act – to be activated in order to make Rome a place of destination – where people will want to come to live and work,” Greenland said. âIt’s about making it a place that community members can relate to.
She said: “The next step can uplift the neighborhood, even with jobs within walking distance – the area has great connections and good walking.”
RJ Neary, CRE with Investors Realty, Inc., of Omaha, Neb., Said EDGE and other organizations “have done a tremendous job” not only with the cleanup efforts at the site, but in working to rebuild Rome after the closure of Griffiss Air Base in 1995.
While EDGE will act as the âstewardâ for the redevelopment of the old Rome cable, Neary said âthere has to be a complementary partnershipâ with the community.
Neary and Greenland agreed that with the base closure and the loss of population, the city “should be proud” of the programs and efforts in place that have helped boost the “economic momentum” of the community.
Closing the base âcan actually be seen as a good thing. It forced the city to pivot and reinvent itself, âGreenland said. “It can bring out qualities – things – that you didn’t even realize you had, and you wouldn’t know you had them without facing adversity.”