Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Park it

For sale: luxury upscale condominiums overlooking the scenically paved parking lot of Price Chopper and conveniently located near the posh Alley Bar, a nightlife hotspot just west of Broadway in beautiful Saratoga Springs; inquire within.

And that’s not even considering the prime location near social pipeline running from the Stewart’s parking lot to the picnic tables across Railroad Avenue at the adjacent grocery store. Who wouldn’t buy or rent such prime real estate? Better yet, what developer wouldn’t jump at the chance to build the aforementioned housing over top a 450-space garage on a lot that’s 130 feet wide?

Well, this is sort of building jenga is what Finance Commissioner Matt McCabe is sending to the drawing board this week in the form of a request for proposal, the Daily Gazette reported Tuesday. The idea is to hold the carrot of residential development out to contractors –did somebody say Sonny Bonacio –to pipe several thousand tons of concrete onto the property and somehow create a “net gain of 300 spaces” for the city.

In return, the city would offer the sweet deal for the developer –Bonacio for arguments sake –to buy or lease the 1.6 acre property that now has room for 150 vehicles. Bonacio, or rather inconceivably some other developer, would then be responsible for maintaining the newly created parking garage, thus absolving city leaders from entering into another expensive concrete boondoggle as they did on Phila Street.

McCabe said he wants to “fast-track” the development, which means that if Bonacio gets his proposal in before early June, perhaps there could be a ground-breaking sometime after the race season concludes in the fall. And seeing as though Bonacio already has a plan together, it shouldn’t be too hard for him to wheel it on down to McCabe’s office on Wednesday, when his staff begins receiving proposals.

For the man who’s quite literally built Saratoga from the pavement up, developing the lot will mean yet another high-stakes construction project, adding to an impressive list that already includes the recently create Railroad Avenue block and the massive division street building. For the rest of downtown, it means yet another season of heavy truck traffic on the west side, at least a full year sans the 150-exsisting spaces and yet another monolithic building to add to the cityscape before the others can even be filled.

Also, unlike the city’s municipal parking deck lying kittycorner from the lot in question, it’s doubtful the city will place in a provision for “the developer” –in other words Bonacio –to offer free parking at the new structure. The good news is that if the city sells the lot without offering a major capitulation in the form of some bone-brained tax break, they will add a nice high-value property back to the rolls, which will help everyone out. The bad news is that the city’s proletariat better get used to walking, as the race for the free round-the-clock parking spaces downtown is about to get a lot more competitive.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is Saratoga turning itself in the Florida of upstate New York? Build them (condos), and geriatrics will come. What are the reasons Saratoga was so attractive to being with? Old architecture, history, arts/music and locally owned businesses. What is happening now? Dismantling old buildings; driving out the arts scene with high rent comercial space; an invasion of corporate shops and a new focus on developement. Good luck, because one day you will wake up and realize that Saratoga won't be Saratoga anymore.

5:01 AM  

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