Scraps of fallen plaster crunched underfoot Monday as state and local officials got a look at a 19th century hotel “cottage” that a private developer plans to turn into upscale condos with the help of a $500,000 state grant.
“This money you have given us will make that a reality,” said Michelle Curran, co-owner of the sprawling 21⁄2 story, wooden building that is the last remaining of four cottages associated with the former Pavilion Hotel.
“Even as a ruin, it has grace and charm,” Curran said.
The funds, announced last Tuesday, are part of $5.6 million in Restore NY grants awarded to projects in Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties. A total of $100 million in Restore NY grants was awarded statewide in the second year of a three-year program administered by the Empire State Development Corp.
Although the state money, provided through a village of Sharon Springs application, helps a private investor develop salable property, state Sen. James L. Seward and Assemblyman Peter Lopez said the goal is to help restore the local community through incentives.
“The idea is to use the state money as, really, seed money,” said Seward, R-Milford. “It puts a good face on the community and attracts [other] private investment.”
“If we didn’t have people willing to take the risk, the state money is wasted,” Lopez said.
Curran said she and Pavilion Cottages Inc. partner Michael Lauder plan to rehabilitate the approximately 9,000-square-foot cottage into five three-bedroom condominiums for a estimated project cost of $1.3 million to $1.5 million.
The condos, on a five-acre site, will then be sold at market rates in what local officials hope will be an effort to attract more residents and visitors to the village.
The cottages were once used to house servants brought along by Pavilion Hotel guests on spa visits, according to Maureen Lodes, who chairs a task force on Sharon Springs’ future development.
“It’s in good shape, structurally,” Curran said of the building.
Antiquated wiring, deteriorating walls and ceilings, and room doorways only about two feet wide will likely require a major gutting of the interior, said village Trustee Doug Plummer, who did a similar restoration about eight years ago at The American Hotel he runs on Main Street.
“Get a good respirator and a shop vac,” Plummer advised Curran good-naturedly.
“The state has given a real ‘thumbs-up’ for preservation and not destruction,” Plummer said. “A half-million dollars is a real incentive.”
Plummer said the grant marks “the first time there’s been incentive for housing [and for] getting more people to live in Sharon Springs.”
Several local officials recalled more glorious days when relatives used to work at the spas and sprawling hotels that once attracted thousands of visitors to the sulphur springs and bathhouses that made Sharon Springs famous.
Like many local residents, Esperance Supervisor Earl Van Wormer said his mother, Marguerite, had a job for a while in village spas about 60 years ago.
Van Wormer and Sharon Supervisor Anthony Desmond said they grew up watching the Sharon Springs hotels and tourism crumble and fade away.
“We still want to keep a little bit of that history,” said Van Wormer, chairman of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors.
Loder praised Curran’s and Lauder’s persistence, even after failing in the first round of Restore NY grants in 2006.
When restoration work will start is dependent on financing and state condominium approval regulations, according to Curran. The condominium documentation is expected to take between nine months and a year, Curran said.
The cottage site owned by Pavilion Cottages LLC is currently assessed at $85,000, with $37,900 of that for 4.97 acres of land. The 127 Adler Ave. property was purchased in 2004 for $90,000 from Yarkonys Adler Hotel Inc., according to county property records.
Lauder’s M&M Stone House Inc. also owns a nearby 73.5-acre golf course assessed at $72,200,
The village and county officials are still awaiting action by proposed developers of a separate project aimed at restoring the former Adler Hotel, near the cottage site, at other plans to attracting visitors to sulphur water spas.
An estimated $33 million project was outlined last April by the mostly Korean investment group, Sharon Springs Inc., which proposed to redevelop the spa industry and make the village a stop on upstate tourism tours.
No formal plans or applications have been submitted by Sharon Springs Inc., according to town and village officials.