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Developer eyes new Glens Falls project

Developer eyes new Glens Falls project

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GLENS FALLS - Bruce Levinsky's renovation of a former glove factory into The Mill at 20 Elm Street condominium and retail complex is nearly completed, as is developer Michael Kaidas' renovation of the Empire Theatre on South Street into a commercial and apartment complex, said developer Peter Hoffman.

"It's time to get another one going," Hoffman said Tuesday, announcing his plans to renovate Empire Plaza on Warren Street into a retail and office complex with 25 "luxury" one-floor apartments.

Rent for a two-bedroom apartment will be in the high $800 to low $900 range.

Hoffman said the largely vacant plaza will be transformed into "a jewel property" that showcases historic architectural features dating back to when it was the home of Joubert & White Co., a carriage and buckboard manufacturer, in the early 1900s.

"It's big open floors of post and beam and oak floors and so forth," he said in an interview with The Post-Star on Tuesday.

Hoffman said he plans to demolish the one-story portion on the east side of the front of the plaza, and renovate the rest of the L-shaped building that is located at the corner of Warren and Jay streets. The building stretches in the back to Fredella Avenue, taking up a whole city block.

The plaza, to be renamed Warren Street Square, includes two private off-street parking lots with ample space to accommodate tenants, workers and customers at the renovated complex, he said.

The residential component of the project will be called The Lofts at Warren Street Square.

Hoffman said he is under contract to purchase Empire Plaza from John Grimolizzi, an Orange County building contractor who has owned it since 2005.

The sale is to be finalized by July 31, and Hoffman expects to begin renovation in the fall.

The total cost of the project is not yet known, he said.

Hoffman said he had spoken with city officials about the possibility of utilizing funding from a state Main Street program grant for Warren Street, as well as possible financing and tax abatements available through local economic development organizations.

Glens Falls Mayor John "Jack" Diamond said the city's economic development team is exploring what assistance may be available.

"These are tools available for economic development that are good to utilize," he said.

Diamond said he's confident Hoffman will do a quality job that will spark further development on Warren Street.

"Mr. Hoffman's track record through seven (downtown Glens Falls) projects he has done is tremendous," Diamond said.

"I am confident when he puts his fingerprint on a project … that it will be a project the city is proud of," Diamond said.

Hoffman's other downtown projects include the office complex at the corner of Glen and Park streets, where Trustco Bank and Quiznos are located, and the building next to it, where NBT Bank and Behan Communications are located.

Hoffman said he is in discussion with a third bank from outside the area about being an anchor tenant in his new Warren Street Square project.

Hoffman is also the lead partner in an investment group that has proposed building a 120-room Holiday Inn attached to the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The hotel proposal is still realistic, he said Tuesday.

"Probably around the first of April we'll be going before the city again on that (hotel) project," he said.

Hoffman said the national recession hasn't dampened his confidence in the local economy.

Of 90 apartment units he and his family own in Glens Falls, South Glens Falls and Hudson Falls, all of them are rented, he said.


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