Schenectady County

Scotia Motel owners want to replace it with Comfort Inn

The owners of the venerable Scotia Motel are seeking approval to replace the 16-unit Neal Street lod
The Scotia Motel at 3 Neal St. is seen Thursday, May 12, 2016.
The Scotia Motel at 3 Neal St. is seen Thursday, May 12, 2016.

The owners of the venerable Scotia Motel are seeking approval to replace the 16-unit Neal Street lodging with a three-story Comfort Inn & Suites.

The proposal is before the village Planning Board. Some details of the plans have changed, and more changes are likely before a final decision is made on the project, said Subhash Modasra, son of owner Sunil Modasra. So he declined to discuss full details of the proposal.

But he said it would entail demolishing the existing motel and office and replacing them with a multistory hotel. The shopping plaza the family owns next door — home to a church, laundry, dollar store and other shops — would remain in operation unchanged, he said.

The circa-1950s Scotia Motel, which the family purchased in the 1980s, is a classic bit of roadside Americana — a small, family-run accommodation along a state highway that predates a lot of chain hotels. That is its charm, as well as its drawback, Modasra said.

“It’s always been something we took great pride in,” he said. “At the same time, the motel is getting to be obsolete.”

The guests are mostly short-term visitors to the area, either for business or family celebrations, drawn to clean, affordable rooms, Modasra said. With more rooms, the family feels they could generate more business, particularly as development in Schenectady continues.

As the initial application letter to the village stated: “Mohawk Harbor & Rivers Casino project in Schenectady will bring economic growth to Schenectady County, the likes of which have not been experienced in the last four decades. It is time to act now and capture some of the traffic and revenue that the project will generate to benefit our community.”

Modasra said there isn’t a timetable for village approval, but the family already has secured a Comfort Inn & Suites franchise agreement from Choice Hotels International, operator of 6,300 hotels in 35 countries under 10 brand names.

Documents initially submitted to the village for the project show a four-story, 67-unit hotel; later diagrams show a three-story, 65 unit hotel.

After the proposal was submitted, it had a preliminary review by the Planning Board on Jan. 4. Various questions were raised and addressed — the fire chief suggested addition of a fire hydrant and noted nearby electric lines that would hamper firefighting operations. The police chief suggested a traffic study. Everything from sidewalks to storm water runoff to water line pressure to illuminated hotel signs has been examined.

Many of these questions have been addressed by the applicants and their consultants, but not all: The site plan review could not be completed at the May 2 Planning Board meeting, and will continue at the June 6 meeting. When the review is completed, and conceptual approval of the project granted, a public hearing will be scheduled, after which final approval will be considered.

The Scotia hotel would be the fourth built in rapid succession in close proximity to the new casino. Two are under construction now: one right at the casino site in Schenectady and one just downriver in Glenville, off Freemans Bridge Road. A second hotel is planned on the casino site.

The latest plans on file in the Scotia Village Clerk’s office indicate a building with a footprint of 12,760 square feet and a height of 40 feet.

Even if the exact dimensions change, it is likely to be one of the bigger buildings in the village, which is full of older homes, many in cozy proximity to each other. However, the Scotia Motel sits in one of the more open spaces in the immediate area, with the shopping plaza next door, a cemetery beyond that, and a large field nearby stretching back to Lincoln School.

The hotel as proposed would be well below the maximum allowable height in the area, Mayor Kris Kastberg noted. (Project documents indicate the limit under current zoning is 75 feet or six stories.)

“I don’t think it’s outsized,” he said.

The mayor said Sunil Modasra and his businesses have had a positive presence in Scotia.

“The village has a very good experience with him in doing improvements to that site,” Kastberg said.

A traffic study completed by a consultant projected the hotel, if built, would have a minor impact on state Route 147, which runs right past the site: 19 vehicle trips in the peak a.m. hour and 22 in the peak p.m. hour.

Reach business editor John Cropley at 395-3104, [email protected] or @cropjohn on Twitter.

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