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Plans to develop Glens Falls green space unveiled

Plans to develop Glens Falls green space unveiled

Four stories, not five, now proposed for apartment building

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GLENS FALLS — Plans to construct a five-story apartment complex at the corner of Glen and Bay streets have been scaled down.

Instead, Queensbury-based developer Chris Patten, who has been seeking to develop the small piece of undeveloped green space in the heart of downtown directly across from City Park, has submitted plans to the city’s Planning Board to build a four-story mixed-use building at the site instead.

The plans call for 43 one-bedroom apartment units spread out over four floors, as well as a commercial retail space on the first floor of what would be a 42,000-square-foot building.

The Planning Board is expected to discuss the proposal at its next meeting on Tuesday.

Plans to develop the green space, which sits adjacent to the historic Episcopal Church of the Messiah, have sharply divided some city residents since October, when 333 Glen Street Associates first sought Planning Board approval to subdivide the parcel so it can be sold off and redeveloped.

The company — which owns and operates the adjacent Monument Square office building and parking garage — has owned and maintained the property since 2006, according to Warren County property records, but has never sought to develop the site.

The property was once home to the Glens Falls Insurance Co. building, but has remained undeveloped since the structure was razed in the 1970s.

Planning Board members approved the subdivision last month after twice tabling the measure over concerns about Patten’s future plans to develop the property.

Patten, who did not return a request seeking comment, originally intended to build a five-story, 64-unit apartment complex at the site, which would have mirrored the footprint of the old insurance building.

The plans, which were never formally filed for Planning Board review, would have required the city to either change its zoning laws or issue a number of variances, since the proposal would have exceeded the parameters of the general commercial district.

Patten met with the Common Council last August to discuss his plans in the hope of garnering support for the project.

He has a contract with 333 Glen Street Associates to purchase the property, pending Planning Board approval.

Patten’s plans to develop the property have sparked a debate between some city residents about the future of the property, with some arguing the project should move forward because it would attract new residents and help lower the city’s tax rate.

But the city has since expressed interest in purchasing the property in order to preserve it as green space, and even asked the Planning Board to require the city to get the first opportunity to purchase the property as a condition of granting the subdivision.

The Planning Board rejected the request.

Mayor Dan Hall said he has heard from several residents who are in favor of keeping the space as it is.

He added that he has spoken with Patten about potentially building the apartment complex in a different part of the city, but Patten has rejected the idea.

“I think he kind of has his heart in it. He wants to do it. We’re trying to work with him to get him to do something else because we feel, for the community, we should try to keep that as green space,” Hall said.

Patten’s new plans adhere with the city’s zoning laws, and a site plan review application filed with the city indicates he is willing to work with Planning Board members to bring the project to fruition.

“Work with city planners to construct an apartment building that conforms to all zoning requirements,” Patten wrote on the application in response to a question asking what the site would be used for.

The proposed building would stand 48 feet tall, according to site plans. That’s just under the 50-foot maximum allowed in the general commercial district, which allows for multi-family dwellings and retail businesses, among other things.

Occupants would park at the 333 Glen Street parking garage, which can accommodate up to 80 vehicles, according to the plans.

Hall said he’s unsure how the city plans to move forward, but added he’s paying close attention to any developments involving the site.

“We’re still in the early process here of trying to figure out our game plan, but as I said, we were hoping that Chris was going to get off that piece of property,” he said. “We’ll figure something out. I don’t know how it will shake out, but the city’s intention is to try to obtain the property.”

The Planning Board is scheduled to meet via Zoom teleconference on Tuesday at 4:45 p.m.

Those interested in attending the meeting can do so using the following credentials to log in: Meeting ID: 859 6178 2892. Passcode: 074475.

Chad Arnold is a reporter for The Post-Star covering the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George and Washington County government. Follow him on Twitter @ChadGArnold.

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