SOUTH GLENS FALLS — An abandoned and boarded-up building could create a village center and a vibrant riverfront.
The village’s comprehensive plan committee toured the site off First Street, which features the bandstand, museum and an abandoned building known as the Carriage House.
The committee focused on that building, which was given to the village. Inside, it has room for about six small vendors. Outdoors, there could be a farmers market, food trucks or seating overlooking the river. The boat launch could be the perfect site for a boat rental operation.
“It’s a hidden gem,” committee member Brigid Martin said. “Grab a bite to eat, then sit out here and eat by the river. There could be kayak rentals. Maybe Segway rentals. Tourists up from New York City would do that.”
Committee members were enthusiastic, and Planning Board Chairman Dave Linehan is working on the wording for a zone change for the site. It’s zoned industrial, but he will propose a change to retail commercial.
The other problem is the building itself. The village received two grants for it — one to shore it up structurally and another to determine everything that needs to be done to reopen it. But a third grant will be needed to do that work, and until it is done, the building can only be used for storage. Among the items to be fixed: the building’s many windows are boarded up and broken and the roof has a hole. On the positive side, it has electricity.
“It needs more work. But we could start outside,” Martin said. “It has to be rezoned. Open it up!”
She also likes that the building is close to the bridge to Glens Falls.
“We need people to cross the bridge,” she said.
Some are drawn to the summer concerts at the bandstand. Regular activity at the nearby Carriage House could build on that audience.
“It could be a focal point,” she said.
The building would also likely be only a three-season location. But Martin said the village could recruit entrepreneurs and pitch the location as a business incubator.
“It is small in there,” she said. “You start here. People could start out small. Then you say, ‘This is great, I want to do it in winter,’ and you move out and another one moves in.”
She wants the village to write a grant request now, while working on rezoning and then drawing in outdoor vendors who use the Carriage Building for storage. Then, after it is rebuilt, the village could move on to phase two with a business incubator.
Village Board members attended the tour and were enthusiastic about the ideas. The comprehensive plan committee is still working on the plan, which is supposed to be updated next year.