GLENS FALLS -- A new restaurant at the historic home of William McEchron should be open for business by the end of 2012, said Ronald Newell, one of three partners in a development group that's in the process of buying the building.
"Probably fall - I don't think that would be unreasonable," he said.
The city Urban Renewal Agency board Thursday formally approved selling the city-owned mansion at the corner of Ridge and Maple streets to Newell and his development partners for $200,000.
The other partners in the group are John Carr, owner of the Adirondack Pub & Brewery in Lake George, and Michael Laney, an accountant in Hudson Falls.
The city Common Council has scheduled a public hearing on the pending sale for 7:15 p.m. Jan. 10 in the Common Council chambers on the third floor of City Hall.
If the council approves the sale at that meeting, the deal would close in March or April, and renovations could begin shortly thereafter, Newell said.
Carr, one of the partners, is already in contact with the state Historic Preservation Office, and necessary approvals were expected to be in place by the time the sale closes, Newell said.
The developers plan to renovate the first floor for an eatery, to be called the McEchron House Restaurant.
The deed states the McEchron name must be attached to the building forever, said Mayor John "Jack" Diamond.
Newell said the number of seats in the restaurant, or who would operate it, had not been determined. He said the developers envision it being a community gathering place, most likely with a piano for entertainment.
Newell said he is in discussions with a prospective office tenant for the second floor, and the third floor likely would be renovated for apartments.
Parking for the second and third floor tenants is not an issue because there are 50 spaces in a private lot Newell owns behind his law office on Maple Street, a little more than a block away, he said.
Restaurant patrons would use the parking lot next to the McEchron House, which comes with the building.
Newell has a private law practice, and he also is the city attorney.
Dennis Tarantino, a lawyer in Glens Falls, has been appointed special city attorney for the transaction to avoid any conflict of interest, city Economic/Community Development Director Edward Bartholomew has said.
Diamond said he is pleased the vacant city-owned building is finally being sold, and that Newell and his partners are not seeking any city subsidies or tax abatement.
"It's a cash deal for the city," he said.
The mansion was built as the home of William McEchron, a prominent local businessman and philanthropist.
In 1921, McEchron's daughters gave the home to the city to be used as a health center and to provide offices for community organizations.
The city has had difficulty paying for maintenance on the structure over the years, and the building has been vacant since January 2010.
The latest plan is not the first proposed restaurant for the building.
In 2008, the Urban Renewal Agency board agreed to sell the mansion to a Bolton Landing-based restaurant group that planned to renovate it for an upscale steakhouse. But the restaurant group backed out of the deal in September 2010, saying it was unable to continue with the plan because the state Historic Preservation Office insisted it had oversight of interior renovations.
The Bolton Landing group wanted to remove a ceiling and portions of walls to use the second floor as part of the restaurant, with second-floor seating looking over the main dining area.
Newell and his partners, however, plan just to use the first floor for the restaurant.