GLENS FALLS — The cost of The Queensbury Hotel project has increased by more than $900,000, as room renovations ended up being more extensive than anticipated.
The new cost is $6.45 million, rather than the $5.5 million hotel officials had estimated, according to General Manager Tyler Herrick.
“We thought that was what it was going to take to get the main facility renovated and up to snuff so we could compete with some of the other facilities and conference centers in the area,” he said at Thursday’s meeting of the Glens Falls Industrial Development Agency.
The initial phase included renovations to the lobby, conference facility and restaurants, as well as infrastructure improvements such as new computer software and new wiring, Herrick said.
But the room renovations were expensive.
“It was like a big onion, there were a lot of layers,” he said.
Some of the bathrooms had four or five layers of tile, he said — 90 years’ worth. New tile was put down on top of the old over the decades.
The owners want to dig up all the old layers and put down new classic-looking tile that will be relatively timeless, Herrick said.
The hotel is spending two months at a time renovating 10 rooms, Herrick said, and has 90 rooms left to do.
“We’ve gotten great response on the 35 we’ve finished,” he said.
Herrick said the hotel has lost some business to the new Holiday Inn Express & Suites off Exit 18.
“The feedback was you don’t have enough new rooms to accommodate our entire group. At least the business stayed here,” he said.
Other improvements in what Herrick has dubbed “phase 1b” include renovating and upgrading the elevators; restoring the lobby to what it looked like in 2016, including marble and brass paneling; and renovating the men’s and women’s restrooms adjacent to the conference room.
The restrooms have to be able to accommodate the future expanded 400-seat ballroom, which is the second phase of this project.
Herrick said he expects to be done with phase one by the spring of 2019.
The initial cost was being funded through private investment of $3.1 million and a $2.4 million loan from Glens Falls National Bank & Trust Company.
This first phase also does not include the rooftop bar concept that hotel officials are exploring. Planning has been delayed because the State Historic Preservation Office does not love it, Herrick said.
“They don’t want to see it from the road, from any road,” he said.
Total employment has increased from 39, when the new owner bought the hotel, to 74 full- and part-time employees. That translates to almost 50 full-time equivalent workers, which was the job creation goal set when the Queensbury Hotel obtained its original IDA tax abatement.
The Glens Falls IDA approved increasing to $210,000 the total sales tax exemption the project is receiving. The project also has a $16,000 mortgage tax exemption and a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement on property taxes.
The property tax break sets the base value for assessment purposes at $1.96 million for the first five years of the agreement, then at $1.96 million plus 50 percent of the assessed value of any improvements for the next five years.
IDA board members were pleased with the progress.
“Based on the employment numbers alone, but everything else going on there, it’s such a positive thing for Glens Falls,” said Chairwoman Judy Calogero.
Board member Maury Thompson said he believes the business that has been brought back to the city more than offsets the sales tax exemption.