A new development plan for the corner of Court and State Street may be delayed.
This past spring, developers had planned to have the Visions Federal Credit Union anchor a multipurpose building planned for the area. The project was anticipated to include apartments for student housing on the upper floors. Visions Federal Credit Union already has a branch downtown in the MetroCenter, but the new project’s lot is located close to popular bars and restaurants frequented by Binghamton University students. However, plans have recently stalled, with Visions Federal Credit Union leaving the project.
Mark Yonaty, head developer of the project and owner of M.B. Yonaty Development, outlined the issues he has faced with development.
“Visions backing out of the deal really hurt the project in its entirety,” Yonaty said. “They were the anchor tenant that I have been working with for the past five years. That certainly has affected the overall project. I think cost of materials and inflation has really driven its [expenses] up. Hopefully we’ll see materials come down, hopefully more in line where this project can move forward and be successful. We’ll see what the climate is and whether they want to salvage this project.”
Yonaty also discussed the timeliness of the project and his personal stakes in the development.
“Right now, because of grants with Empire State Development, time is ticking away,” Yonaty said. “I am passionate about moving forward. I have a significant amount of money invested in the project, so there’s no benefit for me to walk away and lose. At the same time, I want to have a bankable and solid tenant before we get started [on construction]. That could be with Visions, but it could also be other potential tenants.”
Timothy Strong, head of public relations at Visions Federal Credit Union, confirmed the credit union is not planning to move into the space. Strong discussed Visions’ current presence in the Binghamton area, and his desire to continue to build a connection with the BU student community.
“Visions does not currently have a plan to open an additional branch in Downtown Binghamton,” Strong wrote in an email. “We have offices and ATMs located throughout Vestal, Binghamton, Johnson City and beyond. Students on campus are invited to visit our branch located conveniently on the second floor of the [University] Union to open accounts. The full-service branch is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students can visit to ask questions or open an account with special BU perks, such as an exclusive Bearcat-themed debit card.”
Some students brainstormed other potential tenants for building. With the closing of a 40-year-old CVS Pharmacy on Court Street last year, there are few name-brand convenience stores or supermarkets in Downtown Binghamton.
Christina Cruz, a junior majoring in computer science, questioned the need for another bank downtown. Instead, Cruz asked that the developer consider the needs of residents in the area.
“I’m not sure how many [banks] are there already, or if we really need any more,” Cruz said. “Considering the fact that the population in Downtown Binghamton consists largely of BU students and local residents, I think everyone would benefit more from something like a supermarket or a grocery store. College students are always on a budget, and it can be expensive to eat out.”
Daniel Shulman, a junior majoring in biochemistry, referenced the prevalence of construction projects in the Binghamton area. In addition to various developments downtown, there is a three-mile pedestrian walkway connecting campus to downtown, being built along Vestal Parkway.
“They haven’t even started [construction], and that land has been empty for a long time,” Shulman said. “There is so much construction going on, both downtown and blocking the road [going to] campus. Maybe there can be another supermarket, or a place to get essentials, like a CVS or Walgreens. Right now, it’s just valuable real estate being wasted in a prime location for students.”