Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lakefront property

Imagine this scenario: Saratogian editor Barbara Lombardo is putting the last period on her latest treatise on her family’s dirty laundry, when her computer screen flickers for a second and then goes dark. Halfway between angst and frustration, she rushes into the darkened newsroom, only to find a cadre of perplexed writers each staring at their respective black screens. In a blind fury, she picks up the nearest phone and dials the city Public Works commissioner.

“Dammit, Tom,” she screams into the phone. “This is the third outage this week.”

Then there is a lingering silence in the newsroom, as the voice on the other end explains a ‘situation’ has developed involving a Stewart’s double large coffee, a small woodland creature and the main circuit board in the basement of 20 Lake Avenue. But the voice of Tom McTygue coolly reassures the outage will be fixed shortly, adding that he really didn’t like the most recent coverage of the city council meeting.

“What do you mean it could be fixed in several minutes or several days,” she replies. “And didn’t you guys say the bathrooms would be fixed sometime this month? The reporters are getting tired of using spackle buckets.”

In all seriousness –or as seriously as McTygue’s recent comments in the aforementioned publication can be taken –there appears to be a push for the city to purchase the Journal Register Company-owned brick building and 70-something spot lot off Lake Avenue. The acre-large property is assessed at roughly $1.5 million and would probably market for at least $500,000 more than this value, were JRC looking to make a quick buck.

McTygue believes the property would be an ideal place to locate a new parking garage due to its proximity to downtown’s shopping area and its setback into the slope of Caroline Street. In his own words, the lot is “just what the doctor ordered.”

Needless to say, Saratogian Publisher Frank McGivern had no comment for his reporter; such a sale would undoubtedly heap untold hardship on a paper that’s struggling to pull itself from the clutches of waning circulation numbers. And the reporter –who again buried this gem deep in his article –would have done the glib reference justice if he had asked JRC if they would even consider such a sale. After all, if they’re not selling, then McTygue’s bluster is nothing more than the latest warm front to blow through City Hall.

If they are considering a sale, there are some pretty significant changes that could be afoot. First concern would be how the city plans to afford the lot and a project to build a multi-tier parking structure on it, while taking a large commercial parcel off the tax rolls. The second would be what becomes of the Spa City’s “hometown” paper; can they ethically lease from the city? And if they couldn’t, would JRC keep the paper within the city? Could the property be subdivided with the parking lot being sold to the city? Once again the city council has answered their heralded parking riddle with a giant conundrum.

Were the city council to back such an idea, there’s a darn good chance JRC would move the property for the right price. After all, paying taxes on a million dollar property is no cheap thing these days and Wilton seems to have a bevy of cheap space up for grabs. Alas, it’s all speculation until the deed is signed over. But there are probably some sweaty brows in the corner offices of Lake Avenue anxiously anticipating what their reporter brings out of tonight’s council meeting.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's been a running joke in that newsroom for years, how the place is worth much more as off-Broadway real estate than as a news operation. I can't see them trying to stay in the building if the property did sell, though, 'cause there's already not enough parking there for the employees, what with all the Caroline Street drunks parking there illegally. JRC may not care about its employees, but they should care when none of the workers show up because they couldn't find anywhere to park.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Scoop said...

Speaking of parking, I was in Saratoga last week for lunch and some photography and the only place I could find a spot to park was the lot by Lillians, now they sold it, wonder who got and how much the kick backs were on that deal.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the skinflints at JRC do take the money and run, can you say "Troytogian?"
Why have an entire office dedicated to Saratoga coverage when your press currently resides in lovely Troy?
How much longer would it take JRC then to turn The Saratogian product into a tab and save even more cash?

6:14 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Actually, as I understood it, the City already owns much of the Saratogian parking lot, but leased it to the paper many years ago when they had plans to expand. Years passed, and people forgot about the arrangement until now, and claim to have unearthed some sort of documentation to show the lease has expired. Now, the City is looking to take back the land and put it to better use.....and anything would be better then a private parking lot that only benefits the newspaper.

1:06 AM  

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