Saratoga County

Board approves two projects

Two major residential projects got final approval and a third was turned down this week by the town

Two major residential projects got final approval and a third was turned down this week by the town Planning Board.

A downtown condominium-apartment complex and a 36-lot subdivision tied to the Luther Forest Technology Campus each received final OKs after years of review.

However, the Planning Board on Tuesday denied a special use permit application for Blacksmith Square, a proposal by Albany Partners for 175 downtown apartment units with ground-floor retail space on Route 9.

The approved projects included a key phase of the Park Place development in the downtown that will include 176 condo units and 62 apartments. Park Place has been in planning for years and is one of the signature projects of the envisioned residential-commercial Malta downtown.

“We’re hoping to get started within 90 days,” said developer Victor Gush of Schodack.

Park Place, located on 59 acres between Route 9 and the Northway just south of downtown, is also approved for 54 single-family houses and 115,000 square feet of commercial space. The houses are already under construction, while the details of the commercial aspect have yet to be finalized.

“We think this is going to be a really nice addition to Malta,” said John Gay, the project’s representative.

Park Place was approved by the Town Board in 2005, but not immediately built. Last year, after the town established new standards for downtown buildings, Gush asked to revise the plans to increase the height of the multi-unit buildings from two stories to four stories, while reducing the total number of buildings. The Town Board approved these changes in February.

The result significantly increased the amount of green space in the project, Gay said.

Also getting final approval was a 36-lot residential subdivision that will close the gap between Plum Poppy North and Plum Poppy South in the Luther Forest residential development.

When the housing project was approved in the 1970s, that land was covered by an easement that prevented residential uses within one mile of the former Malta rocket fuel testing site.

Now, that land is part of the 1,350 acres of the Luther Forest Technology Campus, the site being developed for computer chip making and other high-tech industries.

The easement preventing residential uses was extinguished when the Luther Forest Technology Campus Economic Development Corp. bought the land in 2005. The subdivision was allowed as part of the tech campus zoning approval, and is the only residential use allowed within the campus.

The right to build the homes was recently sold to Thomas Farone & Son home builders of Wilton.

Donald Zee of Albany, an attorney for Farone, said work should start by mid-summer, once the state departments of health and environmental conservation have given final approval to the plans.

Construction equipment access will be through adjoining lands owned by the state Energy Research and Development Authority, to avoid disturbing existing residential areas.

The Blacksmith Square project, which would have been located just north of Park Place, was voted down because it would have an adverse impact on community character, said John Zepko, the town’s senior planner.

Concerns expressed by Planning Board members included the large size of the mixed-use buildings, and the perceived imbalance between 175 apartments and only 14,000-square-foot of retail being proposed on the first floors, he said.

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