A local man has proposed purchasing the former Walter Elwood Museum building and converting it into eight two-bedroom apartments.
William Petrosino submitted a bid to the Greater Amsterdam School District’s Board of Education last week. The school district owns the building at 300 Guy Park Ave.
Petrosino’s proposal is one of at least two the district is considering, which were discussed in a closed session during the board’s meeting. Petrosino spoke about his plans during a public comment period.
Petrosino, who owns Bill’s Wholesale Beverage in Amsterdam, Queensbury and Glens Falls, has already had an architect review the plans to ensure the building would meet codes.
He said it is hard to make a 100-year-old building meet current construction standards but he has done it before.
He turned an old home on Park Street into four two-bedroom apartments last year.
He also owns a former school building on Vrooman Avenue that he converted into 24 apartment units.
“I feel it’s aesthetically pleasing and the neighbors like me because I maintain the property,” he said. “All the properties are in good condition and I’d live in every single apartment. I’m not a slumlord.”
The building at 300 Guy Park Ave. was a school before the Walter Elwood Museum moved in. It has never been on the tax rolls.
Another local man, Edward Parkes, had offered to purchase the property, a sale the district’s voters approved.
However, the deal fell through after it was learned that the city, not the school district, owned an adjacent parcel of park land.
Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis said the city was unable to change the use of a public space without state Legislature approval. The process to gain that approval was too long for Parkes.
Petrosino said he also would need the adjacent parkland for his proposal.
The city’s Planning Board requires 1.5 parking space per apartment unit, which would mean Petrosino would have to create 12 parking spaces. His plans call for paving about a quarter of the park land, he said.
“Otherwise I would have to put at least eight people on the street to park. I would never fathom doing that to the neighborhood. It would be ridiculous,” he said.
The district has at least one competing offer, which was discussed in executive session.
Petrosino said he heard from the real estate agent that the offer was from a not-for-profit company, which would mean the building wouldn’t be on the tax rolls.
“I think they want me to get into a bidding war,” he said. For that reason, he would not tell The Gazette the price he is offering.
According to the district’s attorney, William Mycek, the district is obligated to take the highest bid, regardless of the future income potential or best use for the property. State Education Law does say a district has a “fiduciary responsibility to obtain the best price possible” when selling or leasing district property.
Petrosino said he considers his proposal to be the best long-term proposal for the site.
He said he would like the entire process to be open to the public, so neighbors could voice their opinion on the best possible use for the property.
“Let all the proposals sink or swim on their own merits,” he said.
The district’s voters will have to approve the sale of the property.