Governor Cuomo Signs Bill Approving Lease of SUNY Purchase Land for Senior Housing, Learning

August 29, 2011

Governor Cuomo has signed A.340, a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), allowing unused land on the SUNY Purchase campus to be leased to the non-profit Purchase College Advancement Corp., which will work with a developer for the construction of a senior housing and learning center. The bill was initially passed in the Assembly and later in the Senate (as S.1846A) where it was sponsored by Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck).

“Governor Cuomo’s signature on this bill represents the culmination of several years of very hard work by citizens, legislators and SUNY officials to create a win-win scenario to generate much-needed revenue for the college while addressing the needs of an aging Westchester County population,” said Assemblywoman Paulin.

As many as 385 units could be constructed on a 35-acre section of campus property; twenty percent of the housing units will be designated affordable housing for those meeting the criteria for lower rental costs, and residents of Westchester County will be given priority in filling half of the affordable housing units (not only initially, but continually as units become available for rent.)

“I would like to thank Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Senator Suzi Oppenheimer for their commitment to introducing and advocating for the passage of this bill,” said Purchase College President Thomas Schwarz. “A Senior Learning community on Purchase's campus is a win-win for everyone. The lease will generate much needed funds for student scholarships and faculty support. It is also an important growth opportunity: it will increase the number of patrons for the Performing Arts Center and Neuberger Museum of Art, expand the opportunity for lifelong learning for senior adults, and produce more economic activity in the local community.”

Seventy-five percent of revenues generated by the lease will return to SUNY Purchase as tuition aid for qualified students; the remaining 25% will help add and maintain full-time faculty positions at the college.

Another point worth noting, Paulin added, is that “there are other benefits inherent in this initiative that can’t be quantified, particularly those sure to arise from the interaction between seniors and students.” The assemblywoman notes that both she and Senator Oppenheimer are hopeful that the time and energy that they and others have invested in nurturing this bill will help pave the way for other ‘outside the box’ approaches to aid more State University campuses and additional entities statewide.

“Good private-public partnerships require careful planning and the willingness of all parties to acknowledge the need for exceptional transparency and taxpayer benefit alongside commercial viability,” Paulin adds. “It is by no means an easy process, but in light of the economic challenges our state faces now and moving forward, it’s a process that offers innovative solutions and one that is ultimately worthwhile.”