SARATOGA SPRINGS – Moore to come.
In other words, the fate of Moore Hall, AKA the Pink Palace, remains uncertain following a flurry of developments in the past week.
An item on the agenda for the City of Saratoga Springs’ Zoning Board of Appeals meeting last Monday, December 7th, was adjourned to next Monday, the 14th. It is possible that the ZBA will vote on applicant Bonacio Construction’s request for variances at that time.
The parcel at 28 Union Avenue has been the subject of intense scrutiny and concern by residents in the neighborhood, as well as members of the Saratoga Springs City Council. The Council held a special off-site meeting on Saturday morning, December 5, to do a walking tour of the site, and to hear concerned citizens’ opinions. This took place in the meeting room at Empire State College, which is adjacent to the parcel.
The applicant’s request for variance has two main components. The first was to allow conversion of the existing building to a 53-unit apartment building. The building had previously been granted a zoning variance from its original use – a dormitory on the old Skidmore College campus and zoned educational – and allowed conversion to up to 18 residential units, in 2006. The second request was seeking relief from the parking space requirement of 1.5 to 1 parking space per unit as required in the UR-4 (Urban Residential – 4) District.
At Saturday’s well-attended meeting, City Attorney Tony Izzo made it clear at the beginning of the meeting that the Council could not overrule a land-use board’s decisions once that board was properly created – the only remedies available would be to disband that board, or litigate against it, which are both unlikely possibilities. Nonetheless, the Council came to hear the residents’ opinions, and hear them they certainly did.
Those who spoke expressed a wide variety of concerns should the new variances be granted. Over 450 citizens had signed a petition against granting further variances, and speakers at the meeting expressed unease about subjects involving parking, traffic, pedestrian safety and the impact on nearby schools in the neighborhood, as well as other concerns. The general mood of the group in attendance was best summarized by neighborhood resident John Kaufmann, who said the proposed development was “…too large a project for too small an area.”
At this point, Moore Hall sits deteriorating, occupying a prime parcel and visible from the city grandest boulevard. Perhaps one of the very few things that all parties can agree on is that the Pink Palace’s current state is undesirable. What it transforms to in the future, however, still remains in question.
In other words, stay tuned. For there is still Moore to come.