Thursday, 06 April 2017 16:21

Diner to be Razed at Saratoga Gateway and A New Vision for South Broadway

Diner to be Razed at Saratoga Gateway and A New Vision for South Broadway

The southern gateway into the city may appear radically different in the near future if all goes according to plan.

A proposal currently under consideration calls for the demolition of the Saratoga Diner - closed in 2012 -  and the development of more than 100 workforce housing units in its place on a five-acre parcel of land on South Broadway. Mayor Joanne Yepsen this week met with a Florida developer who anticipates soon submitting an application for the proposed plan. The owner of the property, who was not publicly named, first engaged Yepsen in discussions about potential leasing uses for the land three or four years ago, according to the mayor.

“The owner said, ‘I don’t want to sell, I want to lease. What does the city need?’ I said workforce housing,” Yepsen said.

The lease proposal calls for the development of 120 affordable workforce housing units in a mixed-use configuration consisting of residential apartments and retail space. More than 100 of the rental units would be offered to those earning in 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. AMI, or the Area Median Income for a family of four in Saratoga County is about $84,000, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Parties involved in the potential transaction anticipate an official deal being in place by late April, or early May. 

Originally known as the Spa City Diner, sections of its more recent incarnation as The Saratoga Diner date back to the late 1940s. It was a once-popular stopover spot for visiting performers and political dignitaries such as Mario Cuomo, Liza Minelli, Count Basie – who was particular to the beef stew, according to published reports, and singer Tom Jones – a fan of the diner’s spaghetti and meatballs. The Spa City Diner in 2001 was re-named the Saratoga Diner. It closed for good in 2012.   

In an attempt to meet affordable housing needs in Saratoga Springs, the city also is pursuing potential plans for a large development off West Avenue, adjacent to the Saratoga Train station, as well as a project behind the Stonequist Apartments, where a mixed-income, mixed-use development facing Circular Street could feature as many as 60 to 100 housing units.   

Public Hearing on Spa Housing Zoning Ordinance Draws Large Crowd

A public hearing slated to take 10 minutes regarding a plan to site a percentage of “affordable” housing in all new developments across the city, consumed the better part of an hour Tuesday night. The SPA Housing Zoning plan – based on a 2006 ordinance that was never enacted – calls for all new housing developments and apartment complexes across the city to include 10 to 20 percent of the units deemed affordable to people with lower to moderate incomes.  

The Inclusionary Zoning, or IZ, would target potential renters and homeowners alike. Eleven members of the public as well as those representing area organizations addressed the council during Tuesday’s public hearing. Of those, three said they were in favor of some kind of affordable housing measures, but not the IZ as it currently stands, and six people said they were in favor of the IZ, at least as a starting point to address the city’s housing needs.

Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen had initially hoped the City Council may be able to vote on the measure as soon as May, but following a discussion that raised the concerns of local developers who would build the projects and of the banks that would finance them, members of the City Council expressed that it might be in everyone’s interests to hold one or two special workshops specifically on the topic in the near future, although no date for such a gathering was set.   

New Tap Room Coming to Saratoga Springs in June

The City Council unanimously approved an Economic Development Revolving Loan Application for R.S. Taylor & Sons Brewery Tap Room. Richard Taylor, who operates a tap room on his 50-acre farm in Washington County, is looking to open a 1,600 square-foot tap room in the Congress Street plaza in June.  The type of loan, initially federally funded, is for $75,000, carries a 3 percent interest rate, and calls for assurances that one position of employment is created for every $25,000 borrowed.   

Collamer Lot/ East Side EMS Land Deal: “It’s Time To Move On”

Nearly four years to the date since Chris Mathiesen first began working on a pair of land transactions that would have the city sell a parking lot adjacent to Broadway’s Collamer Building and subsequently purchase a Union Avenue parcel to build an East Side Fire/EMS station was publicly declared a dead deal by the public safety commissioner on Tuesday. “It’s time to move on,” said Mathiesen, invoking a sentiment not unlike an emotionally abandoned lover in a relationship gone-wrong. The arrangement had been mired in a lawsuit – in which the city reportedly spent at least $50,000 in legal fees – an investigation by the state Attorney General’s office, and a long period of inactivity. It is believed some type of City Council or legal action may now be necessary to officially nullify the potential deal.   

Upcoming

The Zoning Boards of Appeals will hold a meeting 7 p.m. Monday, April 10 at City Hall.

The Planning Board will hold a workshop 5 p.m. Monday, April 10 and a full meeting 7 p.m. Thursday, April 13 at City Hall.

The city’s Affordable Housing Task Force will hold a meeting 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 11 at City Hall.

Library Election and Budget Vote on April 13

On April 13, citizens of the Saratoga Springs School District will elect a library trustee and vote on the 2017-2018 library budget.  The election will be held in the Library’s H. Dutcher Community Room from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Saratoga Springs School District residents who are registered voters are eligible to vote.  A public hearing concerning the budget and an opportunity to meet the trustee candidates will be held 7 p.m. on Monday, April 10 in the H. Dutcher Community Room.Library Trustees are asking the voters to approve a tax levy of $5,103,600 for FY 2017-2018, which is a 0.5 percent increase from the amount approved for the 2016-17 fiscal year.   The library serves the residents of the Saratoga Springs Enlarged City School District.  The proposed budget can be found by visiting the library’s website at: www.sspl.org.

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Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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