Town to review Cicero Commons homes project
Construction could start within 30 days after development receives OK.

August 26, 2002

By John Doherty
Staff writer

In a few weeks, a new old-fashioned community could start growing in a former Cicero brush dump.

After months of review, the Cicero Planning Board last week approved a plan to build more than 100 homes in the new Cicero Commons.

The project now goes before the Cicero councilors, who are expected to briefly discuss it tonight and schedule a Sept. 9 public hearing to give the project a final review.

The five-member town board will meet at 7 p.m. at the Cicero Town Hall, 8236 S. Main St., Cicero.

"Ideally, if we get approval on Sept. 9, we would like to be out there on Sept. 10. But in reality we hope to be out there within 30 days after we get the approval," said Peter Arsenault of the Metropolitan Development Association, which is working with The Cicero Local Development Corp., the Cicero Commons developer and owner.

The housing is the second phase of the larger Cicero Commons project. The first phase included the building of a new North Area Public Library branch and an ice rink and community recreation center. Future phases call for the construction of senior citizen housing and commercial buildings.

The 140-acre Cicero Commons, along state Route 11 about a mile north of the intersection with Route 31, is the site of a former town brush dump once called "The Pit."

The completion of the entire project is set for late 2005.

Negotiations are under way with three Central New York home builders to construct the 117 homes. Citing continuing negotiations and the lack of signed contracts, Arsenault declined to identify the builders.

"They're all established quality builders who have been building homes in the Cicero area for years," Arsenault said. "Each of them will put up a model right away, and there will be a sales office near the recreation center.

"We are expecting many of the homes will be pre-sold, and that will give people the opportunity to pick out colors and finishes to their own liking. It's the best of both worlds. You get the amenities of an older village, yet you get the conveniences of a new home."

The houses would be built to resemble those found in the older villages of Central New York and would include several housing styles built between 1820 and 1930.

The housing phase also calls for the creation of a great lawn that would be used for social activities, community events such as band concerts, and other activities.

The developers also are reserving an area near the great lawn for a new Cicero Town Hall, but no decision has been made about town government moving into the complex.

The project is based on the work of Andres Duany, one of the country's leading innovators in urban planning. Duany and his team of planners toured Onondaga County in 1999 and made a series of recommendations that called for the creation of walkable and architecturally diverse communities.

"Hopefully by early next year, the homes will come on line," Arsenault said. "Once we're turned loose, we should have a lot of activity."

The homes would range in price from slightly more than $100,000 to slightly less than $200,000.

"There may be a few homes selling for $200,000, if the market is there for it, but the main intent is to keep them affordable. We want a good, diverse economic mix," Arsenault said.

Pending town approval, work on the senior citizen housing could begin next spring with the first residents moving in in the fall, Arsenault said.

That project is still being designed, Arsenault said.

2002 The Post-Standard.