Saratoga County

Another housing project planned in Malta

The developers who own the Steeplechase apartments and plan to build the Ellsworth Commons apartm

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The developers who own the Steeplechase apartments and plan to build the Ellsworth Commons apartment complex are proposing another 175 apartments in the downtown area.

Albany Partners is seeking town approval of a four-story building on the west side of Route 9, just south of Blacksmith Square, with 175 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail space. A restaurant is also proposed.

The partners, Bruce Schnitz and Neil Swingruber, are working on complimentary building design and shared parking with Scott Lansing, a local engineer who wants to build a three-story office building on the next lot south.

“We want people to live here, work here and enjoy the entire ambiance of the town,” said Michael Toohey of Saratoga Springs, the attorney representing Albany Partners.

Project representatives appeared before the town Planning Board Tuesday seeking a special-use permit for a mixed-use building downtown. The hearing was adjourned pending a further traffic impact study.

The 6-acre parcel currently has only one vacant building on it.

Several board members said they think the density of the proposed project is too high, especially given that Albany Partners already has approval for 312 apartment units at a different downtown location.

A townwide environmental impact statement done in 2006 envisioned 500 apartments being built downtown over the next decade. Going above the number would require the town doing an expensive new impact study.

“Downtown is more than just these two projects,” said board member William Cuddy. “We’re chewing up the downtown allotment [of apartments] on these two projects.”

The other Albany Partners project is Ellsworth Commons, which got final town approvals last year and is expected to start construction this year. Located on Route 9 opposite the Town Hall, it calls for five-story buildings with retail space, 312 apartments, and 20 townhouses.

Albany Partners also built the 250-unit Steeplechase apartment complex north of downtown, at routes 9 and 9P.

To blunt criticism about the number of apartments, Toohey said the town’s vision of a downtown retail district can only succeed if there are people living downtown to patronize the stories.

“With the town’s vision of retail, mom-and-pop stores, there have to be people coming through the door from day one,” Toohey said.

Planning for the downtown is occurring against the backdrop of an expected growth surge once the Luther Forest Technology Campus develops.

Tony Tozzi, the town’s building and planning director, said a downtown green space and economic development study currently under way is likely to recommend making the downtown retail district smaller, while increasing the residential density.

Others, including town Supervisor Paul Sausville, have questioned the wisdom of planning for a high-density downtown in what has been a rural-suburban community.

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