The former Ellsworth Ice Cream plant is being demolished to make way for a proposed upscale townhouse project.
The ice cream plant, opened in 1933, closed in 2007. Company President Gerald Ellsworth of Greenfield died in 2008.
Developers Stephen Ethier of Saratoga Springs and Peter Belmonte of Clifton Park purchased the 2.5 acre property at Division and Walworth streets early this year for $2 million. They are planning 36 town homes, two each in 18 buildings.
The project also has a retail element along Walworth Street, where at least one or two stores would be located on the street level with apartments above.
Ethier and Belmonte purchased the site from developer S. Alexander Stephens III of Saratoga Springs, who was proposing 66 row houses, some apartments and retail shops at the site in 2010 but encountered financing problems.
The new project is staying within the city-approved footprint of the earlier project in relation to entrances, exits, and pedestrian access, Ethier said Wednesday.
The proposed town homes would be in the 1,800- to 3,000-square-foot range with their own garages and small yards and be priced between $350,000 and $500,000. The developers are hearing from “empty nesters” who want to sell their larger house in the suburbs and yet still own a home.
Owning a home in the city’s downtown area — the property is only a few blocks from Broadway — is attractive to some buyers.
The Ethier-Belmonte project had its fourth “sketch plan” review Wednesday night before the Saratoga Springs Planning Board. Ethier said these reviews are very helpful for developers as they fine tune their projects.
Kate Maynard, the city’s principal planner, said the developers expect to submit their formal subdivision application in January.
Ethier said if he and Belmonte receive final approval in the spring, some work could start by summer. “We want to get the site cleared first,” Ethier said.
Maynard said some of the remaining issues include the internal road circulation, the layout of units, pedestrian access through and around the property, open space and off-street parking. The developers are applying for subdivision approval for town homes from the Planning Board.
At one time Ellsworth Ice Cream was one of the largest makers of private-label ice cream and novelty frozen products in the Northeast. The company had a frozen products warehouse near the railroad tracks off Perry Road in Wilton and, for a time, also owned a former Ben and Jerry’s ice cream plant in North Springfield, Vt.
After the Saratoga Springs plant was closed in 2007, some of the ice cream-making equipment inside the plant was auctioned off.