Stewart’s Shops wants to demolish an old gas station on a quarter-acre lot at the corner of Union and East avenues but has no plans to locate a convenience store there, a company official said Wednesday.
Stewart’s purchased the property across Union Avenue from the main entrance to the Saratoga Race Course in 2004 for $425,000. At that time, the corner lot included a Citgo gas station and car repair shop. The gas station closed some years ago, and the white building has remained vacant since then.
“We think it’s unsightly and are seeking a permit to demolish it,” said Tom Mailey, a spokesman for the Malta-based Stewart’s Shops. “We want to take the building down and do some light landscaping.”
The corner lot is leased to a person during the summer thoroughbred racing meet who uses it to park cars.
The land sits in an urban residential zoning district, said Bradley Birge, the city’s planning and economic development administrator. That zone allows single- and two-family homes. He said the property is also in an architectural review district.
Birge said the corner lot is adjacent to the Union Avenue Historic District, but is not in the district, which includes the race track and the stately homes up and down Union Avenue.
The city’s Design Review Commission discussed the demolition application Wednesday night. Birge said commission members will have to treat the application as a Type One action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act because it is near the historic district and in an architectural review district.
If the commission finds no significant environmental impact associated with the demolition, it could recommend a permit.
Back in 2003 and 2004, Stewart’s sought a use variance for the corner lot that would have allowed it to operate a convenience store there, but neighbors and area store owners opposed the variance, saying the store would hurt business and cause traffic problems.
Stewart’s did receive a use variance from the city Zoning Board of Appeals in 2002, but that approval was nullified by a state Supreme Court judge who maintained Stewart’s did not prove it would suffer a financial hardship if a convenience store were not allowed at the intersection, according to a Daily Gazette story from December 2004.