The economic climate on South Broadway in Saratoga Springs appears to be thawing somewhat, with movement seen in two long-vacant properties.
The Gateway Action Program of Saratoga was instituted last year by city officials to help generate ideas on how to improve one of the main entrances to the city: South Broadway, or state Route 9, which had fallen on hard times in recent years.
Vacant properties and empty storefronts in this area between Lincoln Avenue and the city’s southern boundary were the focus of the program.
The former Weathervane Restaurant, which has been empty for more than four years and includes five acres of land, is being considered for an extended stay hotel. And the former Saratoga Pizza House and Alexandra’s Ice Cream property was recently sold at a foreclosure sale, although the transaction has not yet had a closing, according to real estate officials.
“Any movement on South Broadway is good,” said Saratoga Springs county Supervisor Matthew Veitch.
Veitch and city Accounts Commissioner John Franck were co-chairmen of the Gateway Action Program, which completed its work in 2012 and presented the city with recommendations late last year.
The recommendations from the committee on ways to improve South Broadway will be given to a new comprehensive plan committee that will update the city’s land use master plan this year.
Mike Hoffman, president of Latham-based Turf Hotels, said his firm is in the early planning stages for an extended-stay hotel where the former Weathervane is currently located on South Broadway. The property is owned by local businessman Frank Parillo.
“We think it’s a great site,” Hoffman said.
For more than 20 years, the Weathervane was a popular seafood eatery, part of a small chain owned by a seafood company in Maine. But it was closed in 2008.
The hotel proposal will require a zoning change because this section of South Broadway is currently zoned for office-medical uses.
Veitch said there was a lot of discussion by the GAP committee about this area of South Broadway. The committee did not recommend changing the zoning there but Veitch said this is something the city comprehensive plan committee might consider.
The former Saratoga Pizza House on South Broadway was originally a Dairy Queen in the 1970s and 1980s. The building, which also included Alexandra’s Ice Cream, totals 1,800 square feet and sits on a quarter-acre of land.
Work is still being done on title issues so the sale hasn’t been finalized, according to real estate officials.
In other South Broadway developments, the former Topper Buick and Pontiac dealership at 135 South Broadway has been selected as the new site for Saratoga County’s Mental Health Department, which is currently located at Saratoga Hospital on Church Street. The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors approved the move last fall, and work is expected to start this year on converting the former car dealership into a county building.
Veitch said the renovation and expansion of an old house at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Broadway into the Thirsty Owl bistro and wine shop has been impressive.
“It’s an amazing addition, the rebirth of a building,” Veitch said.
Work has been ongoing at the soon-to-open business since last summer.