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What you need to know for 05/22/2017

Saratoga Diner site could be demolished for workforce housing

Saratoga Diner site could be demolished for workforce housing

Project still needs to go through site plan review
Saratoga Diner site could be demolished for workforce housing
The former Saratoga Diner on South Broadway in Saratoga Springs on Thursday.
Photographer: ERICA MILLER

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The former Saratoga Diner on South Broadway could be demolished to make way for 110 units of workforce housing.

“It’s prominent, and it will be a transformative catalyst,” said Bill Teator, a local project partner for KCG Development LLC, of Indianapolis. 

Teator said the mixed-use project would provide affordable housing options to the city’s service and hospitality workers, hospital workers, teachers, new police and fire department recruits, young professionals and empty nesters who are being priced out of a city that has seen several luxury condos and high-end apartments added in recent years. Fourteen units would be reserved for military veterans in need of permanent homes.

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Rents would range from $750 for a one bedroom apartment to $1,650 for two bedrooms. There would be 46 one-bedroom units and 64 two-bedroom units.

Teator said a city-commissioned housing market analysis showed a substantial gap for modernized, quality housing in that price range; the proposed apartments would meet about 2 percent of the city’s demand.

“The gap between residential needs across working households has become really acute in the last several years, if not 10 years,” said Teator, a Capital Region native who moved to Saratoga Springs in 2006. “It’s a product of the success Saratoga has had, but to continue that success, we need to have a diverse range of housing options.” 

KCG Development is under contract for a long-term lease of the parcel, which is owned by Peter Kodogiannis, whose family ran the historic diner for 40 years. The restaurant closed abruptly in January 2012. 

The apartments would be on the upper two floors of a four-story building planned for the three-acre site. The development would offer a community room, a fitness center and a mix of private balconies and shared outdoor patios.

There would be 17,000 square feet of commercial space on the second floor overlooking Broadway, including 10,000 square feet of incubator space for startup enterprises. The startup space would be run by the Saratoga Economic Development Corp., which launched a countywide incubator and small-business accelerator, called SPARK Saratoga, in April. 

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The first floor would house 18,500 square feet of retail, which could include a shared community kitchen where food-based entrepreneurs could get their start. 

The project would have a two-level, 130-space parking deck for residents, which would be accessed from Union Street, and a 143-space commercial lot connecting to South Broadway. 

Teator said the project’s location between the Saratoga Spa State Park and the downtown area also makes it ideal for a bike-share terminal, which is part of the proposed design. 

He would not provide a cost estimate for the project, saying he expects it to change as the proposal goes through the site review process with the city and design tweaks are made.

The developers are considering seeking tax breaks from the Saratoga County IDA to “keep some of the rents more attainable for folks serving these critical workforce sectors,” he said. He expects the project to go before the Planning Board in about three weeks.

He said work would not begin until spring 2018, when he expects the necessary financing to be in place. That would allow for a summer 2019 opening. 

The LA Group of Saratoga Springs is performing site design and engineering work, while CWM in Buffalo is the project’s architectural firm.

KCG, which focuses on affordable housing, has built more than 7,200 apartments across 80 projects in 13 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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