Saugerties developer envisions a renaissance
SAUGERTIES — A property that has been vacant for more than 30 years could get a new lease on life, spur revitalization efforts in the village and boost the local economy if a proposal to build a conference center, catering facility and a boutique hotel gets the green light, supporters say.
The Partition Street Project is being proposed at the site of the former Cantine paper mill, which burned down in the 1970s. The plan calls for creating a 500-seat conference center and catering facility in a two-story building and a 30-room boutique hotel in a three-story building. It also calls for a parking area that could accommodate 215 vehicles and a restaurant that will be part of the catering facility.
“THE PROPERTY is zoned for what we’re going to do,” developer Thomas Struzzieri said recently. “And it’s a project that I think is going to be tremendously beneficial to this community.”
Struzzieri, the president and chief executive officer of Horse Shows in the Sun, also in Saugerties, said the project would create jobs, bring people to the community, boost the local economy and propel the revitalization of the village. He also said the project would change the entrance to the village from the south and would be a “lovely use” of the property.
Struzzieri said the architecture would be brick work, reminiscent of the old paper mill.
THE PARTITION Street Project, named for the street where it would be located, was announced more than a year-and-a-half ago before being shelved for a few months earlier this year.
The project currently is under review by the village Planning Board and is to be the subject of a public hearing at 7 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Frank D. Greco Senior Center on Market Street in the village.
STRUZZIERI SAID he has several partners in the project, including John Mullen of J. Mullen and Sons in Saugerties. Struzzieri said he chose Saugerties for the project because it is where he lives and has offices.
He said the project probably will cost between $8 million and $10 million to complete.
THE PROJECT was shelved earlier this year for several reasons, with the main culprit being the “crazy state of the economy,” Struzzieri said. He said developers are more confident now that the project will survive the economy, which is why it was brought back to the table. Continued...
The project’s hiatus also occurred during the time when village Mayor Robert Yerick replaced most members of the community’s Historic Review Board. Former Chairman David Minch said at the time that he felt the board’s replacement in April had to do with a letter the members planned to send to the Planning Board asking that the parking proposal for the Partition Street Project be adjusted to preserve the historic viewshed.
Yerick had said his decision did not stem solely from that letter, but also from his dissatisfaction with the board’s performance.
“I just think, in terms of growth and beautification, I think it’s got be an absolute boon to the south side,” Yerick said of the Partition Street Project. He said he also believes the project will lead to further revitalization of Saugerties, which could include the village becoming a home port to the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and improvements to the municipal beach.
BUT WHILE he spoke of the benefits of the project, Yerick also acknowledged it has caused some local controversy.
“There’s been a lot of controversy over that project, primarily about Nanny Goat Hill,” the mayor said, referring to the project’s potential impact on a site that was used as a lookout point during wartime. But the issue is moot, Struzzieri said, because the Partition Street Project will not infringe on the historic part of the hill.
Yerick said there also was some concern about the parking area, but he believes there will be ample room for it.
The mayor also said Struzzieri does not go into projects blindly and makes sure to address public concerns.
“If there are still issues, Tom is the kind of person who is going to address those issues,” Yerick said. “Everyone might not get their way, but they will definitely be addressed to the benefit of the developer, the community and the residents.”
STRUZZIERI SAID several professional reports have been compiled to address the various aspects of the project.
“We’re addressing every issue that the Planning Board has given us, that’s for sure,” he said. He also noted the village is being represented in the matter by consultants from Barton & Loguidice of Albany who consistently have made comments and recommendations about the project. Continued...
JOHN Eickman, a project consultant for Partition Street Partners, said an archaeological investigation of the site was conducted because it used to house a paper mill, and that there also was a “threatened and endangered species” review and a traffic impact assessment.
He said the project still going through its state environmental quality review but that the developers expect to receive confirmation next month that the environment would not be at risk. If that’s the case, ground could be broke next spring, Eickman said.
Eickman said the Partition Street Project would not infringe on the nearby Esopus Creek. He also said studies showed most of the traffic related to the project would occur in the evenings and on weekends. The current peak traffic times in the village are during weekday work hours, Eickman said.
STRUZZIERI SAID the project, if approved, will sit on approximately 7 acres and will make use of as much of the land as possible. He said, though, that some of the land is unusable because it is in a flood plain along the creek.
“The challenge is making sure the community sees a fit and that you can manage any aspects of the project that might be seen as a conflict with the surrounding area,” state Assemblyman Peter Lopez said of the project.
Lopez, R-Schoharie, said there needs to be an open and active dialogue between the developers and the community to make sure the project is a good fit. He also said, though, that the intended benefits of the project would strengthen the village’s downtown area and bring additional amenities to the area.
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