GLENS FALLS -- The Capital District Off Track Betting parlor would relocate across South Street as part of a plan to renovate, rename and “rebrand” the Irish Pub as a family bar and restaurant instead of a late-night bar.
OTB would relocate to the vacant space at 60 South St,, formerly the Ideal Diner, between Irish Pub and Irish Pizza, under a plan that co-owner Tony Poulos presented to the Glens Falls Planning Board on Tuesday.
Poulos said he has a signed lease with OTB, contingent on his receiving all necessary planning and zoning approvals.
Interior entrances would be opened up between the three buildings so that patrons could go from one to another without going outside.
Poulos, co-owner with David Johnson of the bar, pizza shop and three buildings, said the Irish Pub would be renamed, with the new name to be determined, and the business model changed to focus more on the breakfast and lunch trade instead of the late-night bar crowd.
Poulos said his plan fits with Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond’s initiative to improve the quality of life on South Street.
But there is debate about whether a betting parlor belongs on South Street, and the plan may have to undergo review by multiple planning and zoning boards as well as the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
“I’ve got to be honest with you, I’d like to see OTB disappear from Glens Falls — as a citizen and a resident,” said Planning Board member Jeffrey Farley.
Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond said earlier Tuesday he has made it clear in published news reports he would prefer that OTB relocate off South Street, but he has not spoken directly with OTB officials about it.
Two Planning Board members said they do not object to the proposed location.
“If it’s well controlled, I think it’s reasonable to keep it (in the neighborhood) where it is,” said Kathleen Doyle, a Planning Board member.
Scott Endieveri, a bar owner and candidate for city Common Council, said he met with Poulos to discuss his plan, and Poulos seems to be attempting to “clean up the image” of South Street.
“As far as your site plan I saw today, I have no problems with it,” said Endieveri, a Planning Board member.
Farley asked if the Planning Board has jurisdiction over where OTB is located.
“If that’s not the case, then I’ll withdraw my concerns,” he said.
Planning Board Chairman Daniel Bruno said the Planning Board must consider the impact a proposed project would have on neighborhood character.
The Planning Board approved Poulos’ site plan, but he must come back to the board for architectural review of exterior renovations and signs.
Farley said he will hold his objection based on neighborhood character until the next phase of Planning Board review.
Poulos must obtain a city building permit before he begins interior renovation, which can be completed without further Planning Board review.
Karen Judd, lawyer for the Planning Board, said Poulos might also need a building permit from Warren County, because the county is the sponsor of the local OTB.
The project also might face additional levels of review.
City Code Enforcement Officer John Ward said Poulos must apply to the city Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance, because an OTB parlor is a new use for the building.
Some Planning Board members questioned whether a betting parlor is an allowable use under the zoning code for South Street.
Doyle said a betting parlor seems to fit the definition of a service use, which is allowed for South Street.
Judd said a betting parlor isn’t automatically allowed, just because it is already in the neighborhood.
“Part of your job is to discontinue illegal uses,” she said.
Daniel Brown, an architectural consultant to the Planning Board, said the state Office of Historic Preservation will likely have to review the plan, because the building is located in a historic district.
Poulos also learned at the Planning Board meeting that his renovation plan may cost more than he expected.
Judd said city Fire Marshall John Ellingsworth advised that Poulos will be required to install a fire detection and sprinkler system, because the combined seating, once the three buildings are opened up, will exceed 100.
Poulos said he will arrange for his lawyer to meet with Judd to discuss details of the review process.
He said he had hoped to have interior renovations completed in time for OTB to move in Oct. 1.
“You’re not going to make it in three weeks. I can tell you that right now,” said Ward, the city code enforcement officer.
OTB is located now at 51 South St., on the north side of the street.
OTB officials have said they want to relocate the parlor to a building that has on-site food and beverage services.
OTB officials, as of 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, had not returned a message The Post-Star left with a receptionist, seeking comment for this report.