QUEENSBURY — Eugene Serelli is turning 61. He has run The Loft for 15 years, selling ice cream and hamburgers year-round.
His only concession to winter was to have glass instead of screens in the swinging front door of his old red barn.
But he will not be there much longer. He and his business partner, Tony Serelli, have decided to sell.
Visitors have been shocked and dismayed by the news, but the owners are not having second thoughts.
“Change happens,” Eugene said.
Next week, Cumberland Farms will present a design to the Queensbury Planning Board, which involves demolishing the little barn at the corner of Route 9 and Route 149.
The company was one of many that wanted the site.
“We had quite a few people interested,” Serelli said.
He’s not sure if the Planning Board will approve the convenience store. But something new is going in there.
“We were selling the business, and we’re still going to sell it,” he said.
He is not being taxed out and the business is still good, he added. But at his age, he’s ready to relax a bit — perhaps work as someone else’s employee rather than running the whole show, he said.
The Serellis bought The Loft from the original owner, who had run the business for 31 years. Next year will be The Loft’s 47th year.
“It’s been good to us,” Serelli said. “It’s a good little spot.”
But he thinks the Cumberland Farms could be even better. He noted it would employ up to 12 people.
The Planning Board will discuss the plan on Dec. 21. The board is expected to focus on traffic concerns, because a convenience store will bring in much more traffic than The Loft.
An engineering company hired by the applicant has already submitted a 52-page traffic analysis. It recommends that Cumberland Farms get DOT approval to make changes to Route 9 near the site. The company could extend the southbound left-turn lane and stripe the center lane and a two-way left-turn lane near the intersection. Cumberland Farms has already begun preliminary talks with DOT on the proposal.
Town officials agreed that Cumberland Farms must take some action with DOT to get approval. The curb cuts aren’t wide enough to meet the current International Fire Code, according to the fire marshall. Town officials said they would take that seriously.
That’s why Serelli isn’t preparing to close yet, even though Cumberland Farms intends to build its store and open in 2018 if it gets approval.
“We’re waiting to see what happens,” Serelli said.
If the plan is shot down, he said, he has other companies waiting to develop the site.