Developer pitches floating mega-complex for Port of Oswego

Jun 27, 2012

Two developers are proposing to construct a massive floating building on Lake Ontario that would incorporate residential space, science labs, and entertainment and business venues. The city of Oswego is considering this fantastic vision for inside its harbor’s break wall.

The plan calls for the complex to total about three football fields worth of space including: gardens, offices, an aquarium, a 3-D theater, an observation deck, 20 luxury apartments, as well as science labs -- all floating in Oswego Harbor. It's the grand kind of thing someone might have proposed for a World's Fair.

Joe Pilotta is one of the developers who sent a letter of intent to the city in May. He says he understands if it all sounds too good to be true.

"I guess if I were living in Oswego, New York I'd be skeptical too. The only thing you can say to people who are skeptical and cynical is, 'let's give it a try,'" Pilotta said.

Pilotta and his partner say they already have investors lined up for the project. But he declined to reveal who they were. He also says he won't ask the city for any special tax treatment.

"Tax dollars are important for the city to make. I'm not looking for any breaks on school taxes, property tax, employment taxes. None of those," Pilotta said.

The developer promises the project would create over 800 construction jobs and spark regional tourism and investment in the city. But Oswego Mayor Tom Gillan says he needs more information.

"It's an incredible concept; it's a phenominal idea. How can it be done? Can it be done? I guess we'll find out over the next few months," Gillan said.

Gillan says the project won't become like Syracuse's Destiny USA because it's a one- shot construction plan and doesn't rely on a series of uncertain expansion phases. So for now, he's cautiously optimistic.

The next step is for the city to send its own letter of intent to the developers -- which the common council is considering. But there are more hurdles after that , including approval by state and federal agencies. If the project is approved, Pilotta says he can have the floating building completed in just two years.