To maintain and promote the “City in the Country” form that includes an intensively developed urban core, an economically vibrant central business district, and residential neighborhoods with well-defined urban edges and an outlying area of rural character. - Saratoga Springs Comprehensive Plan, adopted by the City Council June 16, 2015.
Ever since Gideon Putnam began his early 19th century build-up in what would later become the downtown core, there has been an ebb and flow to the architectural terrain of Saratoga Springs.
Putnam’s original boarding house would give way to Union Hall and the Grand Union Hotel, and soon be joined in close geographic proximity by the massive structures of Congress Hall and the United States Hotel. The arrival of the steam locomotive in the 1830s made it easier for visitors to come to the then-village, and the first public street lighting with gas went up in 1853. By century’s end, Broadway boasted the Collamer and Ainsworth buildings, Town Hall, Convention Hall, and the Adelphi and Van Dam hotels; John Morrissey operated a clubhouse in Congress Park, and the racecourse dominated the summer season on the east side of town.
“In the older pictures, when you look down Broadway you can see it was built-up on both sides,” says Saratoga Springs City Historian Mary Ann Fitzgerald. “We lost some to fires and some to Urban Renewal. These buildings come and go through years.” The wrecking ball also played a deconstructive role. However, even as the effects of Urban Renewal were being realized in the mid-1960s, the new Northway afforded motorists an easier passage to Saratoga Springs, just as the Saratoga Performing Arts Center was opening its doors.
Placing recent development in historical context, Fitzgerald says things today are not much different than what they were a century ago. “To me (the current build) is reminiscent of what once was,” she says, “filling in gaps and bringing things back closer to the scale of what we once had.”
Some current projects, both proposed and those in development, are listed below. The landscape is varied and includes hotels and condominiums, rental and purchase properties, retail storefronts to business offices. Some are targeted to address the “affordable” or “workforce” housing market.
South Broadway/ Saratoga Diner site. Located on the west side of Broadway.
Proposed: Demolition of the long-standing Saratoga Diner on South Broadway and construction of approximately 110 single and two-bedroom “affordable” apartment units, two floors of commercial space, and a new business incubator collaboratively partnered by Saratoga Economic Development Corporation and Saratoga CoWorks.
The project at the southern gateway to the city would include 46 one-bedroom units and 64 two-bedroom units, 7,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, 4,000 square feet of service establishment space and a 7,500 square-foot food beverage or brew pub, which will act as a visible anchor on South Broadway. Streetscape improvements include street lamps, landscaping, and a total of 273 parking spaces for resident and commercial parking uses. The second floor will house 17,000 square feet of commercial space where two new tenants are expected to join SEDC’s 10,000 square foot “incubator,” a flexible co-working space to be inhabited by a rotating group of entrepreneurs and early-stage growth business teams.
The majority of the rental units would be offered to those earning between 60 and 100 percent of the AMI - a $50,400 to $84,000 range - while 14 units would be offered at a “fair-market rent” to military veterans. Construction is anticipated to begin next spring and the buildings fully operational by the summer of 2019.
146 South Broadway. Located on east side of Broadway.
Proposed: Demolition of a single-story traditional fast food space and construction of a two-story mixed-use building. Restaurant and professional office space on the ground floor, four apartment units on the second floor.
Adelphi Hotel, Broadway.
The Adelphi Hotel, first opened in 1877, is anticipated to reopen this month. Features 32 rooms, a ballroom, and three restaurants: Salt & Char (already open), Morrissey’s, and the Blue Hen.
Adelphi Hotel – New Hotel, 19-23 Washington St.
Proposed: A new six-story Hotel and Spa that will physically connect to, although be operated independently of, the Adelphi Hotel. Features: spa with an indoor swimming pool on the first floor, and 50 rooms on floors two through six.
Rip Van Dam – New Hotel, 351 Broadway/ 7 Washington St.
Proposed: A new six-story Boutique Hotel. Features: swimming pool and restaurant on the top floor and 152 rooms in all, located behind the four-story Van Dam hotel and the Starbucks café on Broadway. Additional plans for a parking garage on Hamilton Street that will serve hotel guests and workers, as well as 40 spaces designated for Palio employees. Public parking may also be offered “as capacity allows,” according to documents submitted to the city.
“These are two large projects essentially adjacent to each other and I think people should be aware of that changing streetscape on Washington Street,” said Samantha Bosshart, executive director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation.
Universal Preservation Hall, Washington Street.
Historic building on Washington Street constructed in 1871 will undergo renovation and re-open in early 2019 as an acoustically perfect theater-in-the-round experience with a capacity of 700-plus people. The upgraded venue will feature new heating and air conditioning systems, a kitchen, an elevator and new light and sound fixtures with acoustic treatments. New entry doors will be set on the building’s Broadway facing-side to provide theater-goers close proximity to a multi-level public parking garage on Woodlawn Avenue. Once completed, it is anticipated UPH will stage approximately 200 events annually.
Stonequist Apartments – New building, South Federal Street/ West Circular Street.
Proposed: A mixed-income, mixed-use development project to be sited behind the Stonequist Apartments to feature as many as 80 affordable housing units - projected at 40 to 100 percent of AMI. An additional 30 units proposed at the former site of the William H. Ford Community Center, at Jefferson Terrace, on the east side of Broadway. Both are under the ownership of the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority.
Code Blue Emergency Homeless Shelter – New building, 14 Walworth St.
Proposed: 6,400 square foot emergency homeless shelter to be sited on Walworth Street, adjacent to the Shelters of Saratoga.
West Side Development – New buildings, adjacent to Saratoga Springs train station.
Proposed: Two developers have submitted plans featuring up to 10 new buildings comprised of a five-story hotel, more than 400 residential units and nearly 30,000 square feet of retail space. Projects to be developed on a stretch of vacant land from the south end of the Saratoga Springs train station to Washington Street/ Route 29, just west of West Avenue.
Station Park project: built out over five phases, calls for two buildings dedicated as a mixed-use space with each building housing 36 residential units, and a total of 22,000 square feet of retail space. The 72 residential units would be for-sale condominiums. Additional development to include two buildings - each providing 57 units for senior housing and 33 units for senior assisted care, a 110-to-120 unit five-story hotel and spa, a pool and fitness center, and a free-standing building with an additional 6,200 square feet of retail space. Nearly 600 parking spaces would span across the location to cater to residents, retail workers and shoppers.
Vecino Group project: development of one three-story building and three four-story buildings to stand just east of the Station Park proposal and near the Washington Street post office. Featuring 160 apartment units presumably in the “workforce,” or “affordable” housing categories.
According to city officials, two additional firms are also currently readying proposals for further development in the immediate vicinity of the Station Park project, although the size and scope of those two potential projects are not currently known.
Union Avenue Condominiums, 46 Union Ave., south side of the avenue.
Planned for occupancy by March 2018: A five-building residential property with on-site parking featuring one, two and three-bedroom residences priced from $689,900 to $895,500. Occupies the site of the former Skidmore College dormitory officially called Moore Hall, and commonly referred to as the “pink palace.”
East Side Fire/ EMS station.
Status: Remains on the city’s radar,but no definitive plans at this time.
Condominium Project, 120 Henry St.
Proposal: Development of a five-story condominium building to house 30 units with 70 total bedrooms to be located at 120 Henry St., on subdivided land adjacent to the Four Seasons market.
24 Caroline Street/ 68 Putnam Street.
Proposal: New mixed-use addition and alteration to consist of six apartment units and two commercial spaces, located at site where damage and demolition occurred in the aftermath of a November 2016 fire.
City Center Parking Garage, High Rock.
Proposal: City Center Authority leasing of city-owned land to build a 480-space parking garage adjacent to High Rock Park, behind the City Center.
Status: Project remains in litigation.
Developments, both proposed and amended, are regularly addressed at City Hall meetings by the city’s Land Use Boards – the Planning Board, the Zoning Boards of Appeal, and the Design Review Commission – as well as at City Council meetings. Those meetings, and agendas regarding what each will be discussing, are available on the city’s web site at: http://www.saratoga-springs.org/. You can also subscribe to the individual boards and have the information show up in your mailbox in advance of the meetings.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Ten new buildings, a five-story hotel, more than 400 residential units and nearly 30,000 square feet of retail space may soon rise from the rustic landscape of the city’s west side.
The city’s Land Use boards are evaluating two projects that seek to develop a stretch of vacant land from the south end of the Saratoga Springs train station to Washington Street/ Route 29, and just west of West Avenue.
“You are looking at significant development,” said Bradley Birge, administrator of planning and economic development for Saratoga Springs.
The Station Park project, which would be built out over five phases, calls for two buildings to be dedicated as a mixed-use space with each building housing 36 residential units, and a total of 22,000 square feet of retail space. The 72 residential units would be for-sale condominiums, said Lou Giardino, chief development officer of the project for Top Capital of New York. The Rochester-based firm has secured a purchasing option on the 17 acres of the land where it would develop the $80 million project, if the city grants its approval.
Additional development would include two buildings - each providing 57 units for senior housing and 33 units for senior assisted care, a 110-to-120 unit five-story hotel and spa, a pool and fitness center, and a free-standing building with an additional 6,200 square feet of retail space. Nearly 600 parking spaces would span across the location to cater to residents, retail workers and shoppers.
The second proposal, submitted by the Missouri-based Vecino Group seeks to develop one three-story building and three four-story buildings to stand just east of the Station Park proposal and near the Washington Street post office. The 160 apartment units contained within seem to fall in the “workforce,” or “affordable” housing categories, although detailed information has yet to be released and phone calls made to the Vecino Group and their local partners at the LA Group that sought comment about the project proposal were not returned.
“They’re two separate and very independent projects coming forward at the same time,” said Birge. “They don’t come as a partnership, but we’ve tried very hard to encourage them to collaborate and at least share their plans (with each other) so that we can approach them in a comprehensive manner.”
“We’ve met with the Vecino Group and support their project,” Giardino said.
According to city officials, two additional firms are also currently readying proposals for further development in the immediate vicinity of the Station Park project, although the size and scope of those two potential projects are not currently known as those plans have yet to be submitted to the city.
The west side build-up is intentional and by design, said city Mayor Joanne Yepsen.
“When we updated our Comprehensive Plan – the first new one in the city in 14 years – we identified West Ave as a growth area, along with Weibel Avenue and South Broadway,” the mayor said. “We’ve also been proactive in looking for a partner who would be involved in affordable housing.” The Vecino Group project would seem to answer some of the city’s affordable housing needs.
The West Avenue corridor has witnessed an increase in development over the past dozen years. In 2004, a $6 million renovation project was conducted at the Saratoga Springs Train Station. Three years later, The YMCA of Saratoga opened its $10 million, 75,000-square-foot community and fitness center 1/4 mile south of the Saratoga Springs Junior-Senior High School. And in 2009, Empire State College completed its Center for Distance Learning facility at its West Avenue property, located a few yards from the college’s graduate studies and international programs building, which was built in 2004. s