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Medical center pulls out of Caz's Riverside Drive project

— Amid recent talks of a medical center being built within the village of Cazenovia, it seems the vacant lot on Riverside Drive will remain vacant in the following months.

St. Joseph’s Hospital, the organization which was examining the feasibility of constructing a new location behind the Cazenovia Public Library, recently informed the village board it was putting plans on hold in order to focus on expanding its facility in the Atwell Mill Annex. During the Feb. 6 Cazenovia Village Board meeting, trustees discussed other uses for the space and the possibility of acquiring 118 Albany St. in order to create a road connecting the property to Route 20.

“In the near term, Sphere [Development]’s proposal to them to build a new building on the Riverside Drive site is not going to happen,” said Village Mayor Kurt Wheeler. “I think we have a good site plan, and when [St. Joseph’s is] ready to go, it will be very positive for the village. Personally, I’m not prepared to say we’re going to let that site lie fallow indefinitely in hopes that will happen.”

Sphere Development, the firm designated as the lead construction agency for the project, is able to independently decide its next move. The village is not contractually obligated to work with the firm on the parcel, because the initial agreement was specifically for a medical center.

Mayor Wheeler also discussed continuing toward the acquisition of 118 Albany St. He said creating a road which links the main drag to Riverside Drive will alleviate current parking concerns and could make the site more attractive to developers. The parcel is directly across from the heavily-trafficked junction of Route 13 and Route 20. Including a road to Riverside Drive would create a four-way intersection.

Not all village trustees were in agreement, as Dave Porter voiced his issue with demolishing a historic building in the center of Cazenovia in order to create a new road.

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