Keuka Solar Village caps banner year for FLEDC

Staff Reports
A computer generated image of one of the five 25-unit  apartment buildings to be built in Keuka Solar Village overlooking the Keuka Lake

PENN YAN — The Finger Lakes Economic Development Center (FLEDC), Yates County's Economic/Industrial Development Agency, finished out an already impressive  2021 calendar year by approving two more major projects.

At the FLEDC Board's December meeting, final approval was given for Keuka Solar Village and its proposed 125-unit multifamily housing development at 2447 Bath Road just outside Penn Yan in the Town of Milo next to the Penn Yan Airport property. At the November board meeting, an initial resolution was approved for Keuka Ventures LLC., for the proposed purchase and renovation of the Top of the Lake Restaurant in Penn Yan.

The two projects are projected to exceed $32,000,000 in total capital investment and create 13 new positions in the first three years of operation.

Keuka Solar Village

Keuka Solar Village is a $29,400,000 multifamily housing project is proposed to have five individual buildings each with 25 units. The site is a 16-acre vacant parcel just north of the Penn Yan Airport. 

Keuka Solar Village CEO Ryan Wallace addressing the Milo Planning Board Nov. 9.

At a public hearing at the November meeting of the Town of Milo Planning Board, Keuka Solar Village CEO Ryan Wallace explained that 51% of the units are designated for residents with incomes at or below 80% of the local median income, and 49% of the units will be rented at market rate. The monthly rents will range from $1,175 to $2,950, including utilities and internet costs. According to Wallace, the project's 30-year mortgage prohibits both subletting and vacation rentals.

The 16-acre site plan includes the five apartment buildings, a community center and dog park (for residents only), plus 10 multi-space garages and exterior parking totaling 296 spaces.

The buildings will all be solar powered and will be manufactured by Solar Home Factory in their new facility in Geneva. The company is going to work with BOCES and local school districts including Penn Yan Academy, Dundee High School, and Marcus Whitman High School on an apprentice training program aligning high school students with local unions to help fill the more than 100 career openings Solar Home Factory will have at their Geneva facility.

Three of the five solar-powered, 25-unit apartment buildings planned for Keuka Solar Village.

Total proposed incentives on the project are estimated to be $1,295,000 over 10 years in property tax abatements, $1,177,000 in sales tax exemptions, and $235,000 in mortgage tax exemptions. The company does propose to create two full-time equivalent positions at the complex, and total company investments over the 10 years of the proposed tax incentives equal $31,273,000, including the cost of development, wages paid to the two employees, and PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) payments.

The interior of a Keuka Solar Village apartment.

The development will also add much needed housing units within Yates County. The company is planning to break ground in the middle of 2022 with the first occupancy coming in late 2023.

Top of the Lake, Keuka Ventures LLC

Keuka Ventures LLC., submitted an application for the purchase and renovation of the Top of the Lake Restaurant located on the shore of Keuka Lake in Penn Yan.

Plans for Top of the Lake include a new patio bar on the lower level, new windows, siding, decking, and landscape for the exterior, and major renovations to the kitchen and interior.

The projected capital investment of the project is $2,700,000 and will include a major renovation to the facility including reconditioning or replacement of all kitchen equipment, replacement of all exterior siding, windows and doors, redecorating of all interior ceilings, floors, and walls. It will also include the addition of geothermal heating and cooling. They will also be adding a public stairway to the lower level where they plan to create an additional bar and lounge. The exterior will see the addition of a seasonal patio bar, new deck construction, and new landscaping.

Total incentives on the project are projected to be $402,125 to include $307,325 in property tax savings over 10 years; sales tax exemptions of $73,200, and a mortgage tax exemption of $21,600. The project is anticipated to create 11 full-time equivalent positions in the first three years of operation. Total company investment over the 10-year lifespan of the PILOT incentives is projected at $6,581,147 including capital expenditures, wages paid, and PILOT payments. The company plans on having all renovations complete by early summer 2022 with operations starting immediately after.

Over $59 million in investments for 33 projects in 2021

For the year, the FLEDC conducted 266 new and existing business meetings and nearly 500 meetings overall, and directly assisted 33 new projects in 2021. Those 33 projects are estimated to create $59,175,099 in capital investment (not including wages paid or PILOT payments) and create 60 new jobs over the next three years. Out of the 33 projects, seven are new businesses to Yates County with the rest being expansions of existing businesses.

In the past 10 years, the FLEDC has now directly supported over 300 projects resulting in $320,000,000 in company capital expenditures and over 800 jobs created. Those projects have helped Yates County lead the nine-country Greater Rochester/Finger Lakes area (Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, Yates) in nearly all major economic growth categories including:

· 14% increase in total business establishments since 2001

· 46% increase in manufacturing jobs since 2001 (The region, state and nation all lost at least 20% of their manufacturing jobs over the same time period.)

· 58% increase in financial services since 2001

· 23% increase in construction jobs since 2001

· 16% increase in agricultural jobs since 2001

· 77% increase in tourism spending per capita since 2005 (twice the regional average)

· 4% increase in median household income since 2014 (the only county in the region to have an increase)

· Reduced the poverty rate by nearly 2% since 2014 while the region (+4%) and state (+2%) both saw increases in their poverty rates.

· Lowest unemployment rate in N.Y. State according to NYS Dept. of Labor.

* Data analysis provided by Center for Governmental Research on behalf of ACT Rochester unless otherwise noted.

Steve Griffin, CEO of FLEDC

"The FLEDC would like to thank the many, many businesses and their leaders along with all our partners that are helping Yates County experience this tremendous growth," says FLEDC CEO Steve Griffin. "We continue to receive new business inquiries on regular basis and are thrilled by how many residents are becoming actively engaged in helping our community grow. We are beyond excited to see what 2022 has in store!"