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Thursday, 25 April 2013 12:47

Congress Plaza Hotel Gets Go-Ahead

By Patricia Older | News

City Planning Board Hears Plans for Senior Housing

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Springs Planning Board members approved the site plans for Congress Plaza Redevelopment which will see a 145-room hotel built where the former Broadway Joes was located. 

The project, proposed by DCG Development Co. out of Clifton Park, will be a six-story hotel with a ground floor commercial and retail area to be built in the southwest corner of the lot. 

The owners are restricted in where the hotel is built because of a no-build-out clause in their long term lease with CVS. 

Only a portion of the existing plaza will be razed for the new construction and the company has revised the site plans after meeting with the Design Review Committee earlier this month. 

Matthew Jones, attorney for DCG, told board members at Wednesday night’s meeting that DRC had been concerned about the flatness of the project. 

“We presented the original design with DRC and they were concerned with the uniformity,” said Jones. “We broke that up.” 

The new plans show an architecturally rich design with setbacks and cutouts, as well as a sidewalk that will be lined with existing and new oaks, a patio terrace area designed to encourage pedestrian traffic and two additional access points—one off of Ash Street and one off of Federal. There will also be additional sidewalk entrances, bike racks and more parking.

“We also now have four separate entry points [to the front of the building] from the sidewalk,” said Jones. 

DRC will demolish 35,000 square feet of the plaza to make room for the 85,000 square foot hotel. 

Planning Board Chair Clifford Van Wagner expressed his pleasure with the site plan improvements made, bringing the project more in line with existing projects and the vision of the city. 

“This project has come a long ways from when we first saw it,” said Van Wagner. “It is nice to see the developer work hand in hand with DRC.”

Board member Tom Lewis agreed. “I think it is a great project and an indication of a city that is moving along nicely,” said Lewis. 

The builder hopes to have the project completed by next summer. 

In other business, planning board members approved the site plans for Plaza 15 Self Storage to build an additional three storage units. 

Board members had been concerned with the visual impact the new units would have at Exit 15 and sent the builder to the DRC last month. 

In order to address the visual concerns, the builder split one of the buildings in two and moved two of the three westward, hiding them behind an earthen berm. 

“Building C presented too much of a visual impact,” said Mike Toohey, who represents the owners of the property. “To accommodate this we reduced the size of the building significantly and have hidden it behind an earthen berm.”

The remaining portion of the building was moved to another location and would be hidden by the tree line and new buildings. The original building was 275’x15—it is now 70’x15’. 

Board members felt confident the applicants had done all that were requested of them to minimize visual impacts. 

“I think this is a textbook case and wish every applicant that comes before the board looks at what this applicant has done,” said board member Philip Klein.  

Van Wagner agreed. “This is Planning 101 at its finest,” said Van Wagner. “You folks listened and made it work.”

The applicant still will need to reappear before DRC and the zoning board. 

Board members also heard the preliminary application from Omni Housing Development to build a four-story mixed use building at the corner of West Avenue and Church Street. The building is proposed to have 90 senior apartments for people over 55 years of age, as well as a ground floor of commercial and retail space including a restaurant, hair salon and library. 

The next Planning Board meeting will be May 8 at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

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