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Vista on the horizon

A frenetic spring followed by slow summer for tech park

— Players in the development of the Vista Technology Campus say a groundbreaking is looming on the much anticipated, often delayed project.

Jonathan deForest, vice president of BBL Construction Services, said he expects his crews to be starting work on Vista Boulevard, the 3/4-mile road into the tech park, in a matter of weeks.

“I think that we are closer than we've ever been,” he said. “We hope that sometime in the month of September we'll be breaking ground.”

Though it's encouraging news, that schedule is well removed from the dates bandied about in the spring, when developers said quick action could have companies settling into offices during the fall months. The Bethlehem Industrial Development Agency worked at a frantic pace to cement a deal that would finance the construction of Vista Boulevard. In the end, it ended up visiting the Bethlehem Central School District, the town itself and Albany County lawmakers to move forward with a plan to use payment in lieu of taxes receipts to pay off around $7 million in bonds.

Though the plan was approved in June, the bonds haven't yet been issued. They should be going out in the near future, though.

“This has slipped a little bit. It slips whenever you get down to the final dotting the is and crossing the ts,” said Bethlehem Supervisor Sam Messina, who was a definite supporter of the IDA deal. Now that the money matters have been sorted out, the IDA will see less of the project.

The Planning Board will still be quite involved, though. The building of Vista Boulevard and an office building at its terminus has been fully approved, but developers will be back before planners on Sept. 6 to go over “Phase 1B,” which will cover much of the retail and office space near the park's entrance.

That construction will get underway as soon as the road's construction allows.

“That's the exciting part, as the road's going you're also going to be seeing buildings going up,” deForest said.

Among the confirmed retail tenants is a ShopRite grocery store, which will be the largest retailer in the Vista park.

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