SARATOGA SPRINGS – Call it SoBro.
Plans are underway to revitalize the entrance to the city via the South Broadway gateway with the proposed development of a contemporary four-story mixed-use building on an under-utilized lot currently occupied by the Saratoga Diner. The diner closed in 2012.
The three-acre project includes 110 single and two-bedroom apartment units, two floors of commercial space, and a new business incubator collaboratively partnered by Saratoga Economic Development Corporation and Saratoga CoWorks.
The proposal is currently making its way through the city application process, and expectations are that the project is in compliance with existing zoning and height ordinances. Should the process go well, it is anticipated the diner could be demolished and new construction begun next spring. The structure could be fully operational by the summer of 2019.
Plans call for 46 one-bedroom units - monthly rent will start at about $750 per month - and 64 two-bedroom units – which will rent for approximately $1,650 per month, translating overall to a rate of approximately $1 to $1.35 per square-foot. The apartments will be marketed to local workers in the service and hospitality industries, police and fire department members, teachers, hospital workers, young professionals and downsizing empty nesters. A long-term lease of the parcel, owned by the family who operated the diner for several decades, is being contracted with KCG Development of Indianapolis.
The ground floor will feature 7,000 square feet of retail space, 4,000 square feet of service establishment space – such as what would house a salon or barber shop - and a 7,500 square-foot food beverage or brew pub, which will act as a visible anchor on South Broadway. Streetscape improvements include street lamps, landscaping, and a total of 273 parking spaces for resident and commercial parking uses.
The second floor will house 17,000 square feet of commercial space where two new tenants are expected to join SEDC’s 10,000 square foot “incubator,” a flexible co-working space to be inhabited by a rotating group of entrepreneurs and early-stage growth business teams.
“We already have more than a dozen project teams at all different stages going through the incubator right now from a virtual standpoint,” said Ryan Van Amburgh, economic development specialist at SEDC. “We will spearhead this initiative – these 10,000 square feet – and that’s why we brought on Saratoga Co Works, because they have a proven model from an operation standpoint. There will be a mixed-use of private office space, co-working office space, programs, seminars, and workshops.”
The environment also provides the opportunity for cross-collaboration between working groups to occur. “It allows us to take people literally from the ‘I have an idea’ stage all the way through commercialization, and then accelerate beyond,” Van Amburgh explained.
“People can come in at different stages. We’ll have teams that came in and say: I’m a serial entrepreneur and I need an investor, what can I do? Or, somebody has a manufacturing product, but needs help with distribution,” he said. “It really allows any entrepreneur to come in at any stage. Even at that napkin stage where they’re literally writing in a coffee shop: Here’s my idea. And we take them right through the platform, through commercialization. The companies that come in and just want to accelerate beyond that we help through our mentorship pool, through an advisory team and the community.”
Featuring a residential component, a commercial component, and a component to both nurture and launch entrepreneurship, the goal of the overall project is to inspire new businesses to grow and subsequently set up their own businesses in the local community, as well as to provide housing opportunities otherwise not readily available.
“We’re a membership based organization and it’s made up of the business leaders that drive the economy now. So, they are there to mentor the next generation. That’s how it works,” Van Amburgh said. “This project will be transformative for that area. It will spark more development.”