Birkett Landing project underway

John Christensen
Work to convert Birkett Mills warehouse buildings into upscale apartments has begun.

After negotiating the byzantine requirements of New York's economic incentives and historical preservation funding, plus local property tax negotiations, the newest Iversen Inc. project in Penn Yan is finally underway. Workers are wasting no time in making progress.

The former warehouses of the Birkett Mills, located between Water Street and the Keuka Lake Outlet in Penn Yan are being developed by Chris Iversen into 13 upscale residential apartments on the four upper floors. Proposed plans also include a café and three separate commercial spaces on the lower level facing the Outlet. This will be developed further after the NYSEG cleanup of the former gasworks property and the waterway has been completed sometime in 2014.

According to plans, Birkett Landing will have three one-bedroom apartments and 10 two-bedroom apartments, including a two-bedroom penthouse that will occupy the entire top floor. The apartments range between 1,200 to over 1,500 square feet, with one and a half to three bathrooms each.

The one-bedroom units offer flexibility in accommodating guests, each having a den and loft sleeping spaces. Four of the two-bedroom units also have dens.

Iversen is reluctant to release any rent figures at this early stage, "But they will reflect the level of size, finishes, and amenities of this high end project," he said, adding, "We are planning a fitness room on the ground floor for use by the residents, and of course, elevator service and building security access."

Historic district requirements mean that the exterior will be restored to its original appearance with wood framed windows and steel siding with a stamped brick pattern. Project foreman Marty Runner, who has worked with Iversen for over 30 years, says the old siding is in rough shape and will be completely replaced. Part of the building was later covered in asphalt siding that mimics a different brick. This will also be removed and the exterior will be unified with the new stamped steel.

Village of Penn Yan Code Enforcement Officer Bruce Lyon says that the long talked about parking concerns in that part of town with the project have been addressed by Iversen with a retaining wall for parking beside the building, and a curved drive around the former Carey's Rental building, leading to a parking lot along the Outlet. Lyon also said the village hopes to retain the former railroad bridge for the protection it offers the floodgates, and to develop it into part of the Outlet Trail once the NYSEG cleanup is done. After all the curb cuts have been finished, Lyon says parking spaces on that side of Water Street will be repainted and the number is likely to increase. He said there are no plans to add more municipal parking lots.

Another project in the development stages is the conversion of the former Carey's Rental building into a wine and liquor retail shop, planned by Ray and Sandy Spencer, owners of Lake Street Wines & Spirits.

Because of the creativity and complexity of funding the Birkett Landing project, and the success of their efforts, Finger Lakes Economic Development Center CEO Steve Griffin and Iversen will present the project at the New York State Economic Development Council's annual convention Jan. 23. Griffin says one of the more challenging parts of the project was finding businesses to buy the historic tax credits the project will accrue.

Iverson Construction, Chrisantha Construction Corp. and Chrisantha, Inc. are based on Dewey Avenue in Gorham.

The Yates County Legislature has accepted Chrisantha Inc.'s plans for development of housing on the former Penn Yan Marine property between Lake Street and the Keuka Outlet. Iverson has also discussed developing a hotel on property formerly owned by Robert Pfuntner near the Boatyard Grill (formerly Sarrasin's).