October 23, 2021

City seeks to help Homer Avenue project

The city of Cortland may vote tonight to hire Thoma Development Consultants to help it seek $500,000 in grants to develop a $4.5 million project on Homer Avenue.

Mack Cook, the city’s director of administration and finance, said the cost of Thoma Development’s help Cook cannot exceed $5,000 to seek the Restore New York grant.

Cook said Thoma Development’s assistance will help David Yaman to acquire the grant funding when he files the paperwork for reimbursement.

The guidance from Thoma Development will make sure Yaman “is doing everything right at the time he’s supposed to do it.”

“It’s a specialized field and they know how to handle big grants like this,” said Yaman, who plans to renovate the 120,000-square-foot Homer Avenue plaza to house Cortland ReUse — a fledgling non-profit that acquires and sells reusable building materials and other goods — a fitness center and general office space.

The plaza already has a Dollar General, which Yaman said has a long-term lease.

The consultant would help keep the project meeting state standards, Cook said, which in turn protects the grant.

“If you skip a step, you can’t make it up,” Cook said. “Those things can’t be fixed and he doesn’t get the $500,000 to cover costs.”

Yaman said he is looking to use the grant money to cover what he spends on the exterior of the plaza, a new roof and parking lot — but understands Thoma Development may tell him otherwise.

“I just want to make sure everything is OK in this process,” he said.

Construction to revamp the Homer Avenue plaza in the city of Cortland is expected to begin in late October or early November, and finish in the spring.