Plans for a six-story hotel with retail shops and offices on the ground floor along Congress Street were seen for the first time this week by the city’s Design Review Commission.
The former Grand Union on Congress Street, which later housed Broadway Joe’s Dinner and a Movie, would be demolished as part of the multimillion-dollar proposal from DCG Development Co. of Clifton Park.
DCG Development Co., owned by Donald C. Greene, developed Congress Plaza off Congress Street back in the early 1980s, in an area that had been leveled by urban renewal efforts.
The project includes a 195-space, two-level parking garage that would provide parking for guests in the 140-room hotel.
The name of the hotel has not yet been released, but developers have been talking with Hilton. No agreements have been signed, according to Matt Hurff of Frost-Hurff Architects of Saratoga Springs, the project’s design architects.
Late last year, DCG Development Co. opened a Hilton Garden Inn at the Clifton Park Center mall, which DCG owns.
The interior of the plaza will remain as it is, with the hotel being built along Congress Street west of CVS Pharmacy.
The six-story hotel would be built in two sections connected by a glass-enclosed walkway above a new entrance off Congress Street, Hurff said.
One section of the hotel would have six stories and the other five. Retail stores and commercial spaces would be on the ground floor facing the sidewalk.
“That’s really important for the city,” Hurff said, referring to the Design Review Commission. He said city planners want to have a streetscape along Congress that is pedestrian-friendly.
Hurff said the presentation before the Design Review Commission on Wednesday night in City Hall went “quite well.”
“The overall concept, they seemed comfortable with,” he said.
Bradley Birge, the city’s planning and economic development administrator, said plans for the hotel are still in the preliminary “sketch” stage. But he said the Design Review Commission, which provides architectural review of such projects, looked upon the early plans “somewhat favorably” while making suggestions to improve the facade.
Birge said the commission liked the glass-enclosed walkway that connects the two upper sections of the hotel.
The commission members discussed the height of the buildings and suggested ways the developers might use horizontal details on the facade to reduce this appearance. The commission also had concerns about a connecting fence or screen that would connect the CVS building with the proposed new building and asked that its design be improved.
The city Planning Board has already reviewed the sketch plans. The next step will be for DCG Development Co. to present a full site plan application to the city Planning Board. The Design Review Commission will also review the formal application.
“The owner would like to get into the dirt by the end of next year,” Hurff said. He said if all went well, ground would be broken in the fall of 2013.
The full site plan application will be submitted to the city Planning Board before the end of the year, he said.
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