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Wednesday, March 26

Rip Van Dam gets site plan approval for expansion, construction expected this summer

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> After a lengthy debate over environmental impacts Wednesday night, the Planning Board approved the site plan for a six-story, 176-room hotel addition to the Rip Van Dam on Broadway, paving the way for the historic building to return to its original purpose.

The addition will tower over the current more than 160 -year-old building, constructed in the city’s Victorian heyday amid some of the largest hotels in the world.

The design of the addition is modeled to compliment the Rip Van Dam’s history while still raising a new, modern hotel 70 feet over Broadway, topped with a glass-walled, 200-seat capacity banquet hall.

The addition will rise behind the Rip Van Dam, built to fill the rear parking lot from the neighboring Adelphi Hotel out to Washington Street, where the valet entrance will be located.

A shot of their rendering, which I particularly love for the old cars and men with fedoras everywhere.

A coordinated streetscape in a “historical Victorian motif” with sitting areas and landscaping and heated sidewalks will stretch along Broadway from the corner of Washington to the far side of the Adelphi, developer Bruce Levinsky said.

The project has been before the Planning Board for more than a year and was plagued by city concerns over traffic and parking.

“We’ve been here quite a few times. We came to you with a project we thought was very, very good,” said the applicant’s attorney, Matthew Chauvin. After “working with the city in a collaborative effort, this has become a better project.”

At the opening of the meeting, City Planner Kate Maynard outlined 17 conditions the applicants agreed to in order to mitigate concerns over traffic, parking and other issues.

Chauvin said that list had a price tag of about $300,000. By the end of the meeting, the applicant had agreed to one more item.

The biggest addition to the project , not included in that cost, was a five-level parking garage that will reach 70 feet at its peak and have 341 spaces.

The garage will be accessed primarily by valets from the hotel that has no on-site parking.

It was required as one of the conditions of planning board approval for the hotel’s site plan.

Planning Board members had initially criticized the developers, who had proposed the project without a definite solution to parking.

Parking is not required for development on Broadway, but it remained a concern throughout the process.
“It’s a tough project. It’s all valet, which is a first,” said Planning Board Chair Mark Torpey.

The garage’s special use permit was approved in a separate vote Wednesday night, but the site plan was put off until the Design Review Commission could review changes to the proposed height of the structure.

Traffic was the biggest roadblock to the project, though.

The corner of Washington Street and Broadway is widely considered troublesome and with an exclusively valet-served property, the amount of traffic generated was concerning to Planning Board members.  

Traffic engineers were hired by both the developer and independently by the city, paid for by the developer. The two separate studies both concluded the project would have a small to moderate impact on the corner, but the Planning Board remained concerned and divided up to a vote on its environmental impact, which includes traffic.

“As I’ve said all along, I think this is a great project on the wrong site,” said Clifford Van Wagner, who chaired the planning board for the majority of the meetings the project was considered in.

He and Board Member Dan Gaba both voted their belief that the project could have a negative impact on traffic.

Van Wagner was the sole dissenting vote on the hotel’s site plan.

Levinsky said construction will begin in the summer and will last between 15 and 16 months.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not Dean Gaba, it's DAN Gaba.

And.....congrats to Bruce Levinsky for hitting a home run, in spite of the count being 3-2 in the ninth inning. The design looks fabulous.

April 4, 2014 at 10:28 PM 

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