Thursday, 28 March 2019 16:13

Putnam Street Eyesore Demolished, Condos Planned

53 Putnam Street demolition on Monday, March 25.  53 Putnam Street demolition on Monday, March 25. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – An eyesore that stood for decades on Putnam Street was demolished Monday afternoon. In its place will rise a five-story mixed-use building with plans calling for a restaurant at the street level and approximately two-dozen condominium apartments upstairs.

“Everyone I know has loathed that building for decades,” said Jason Letts, shortly after a massive excavator, boasting more than 80,000 lbs. of operating weight, extended its 20-foot boom and clawed at the architecture, laying to waste the last wall standing and leaving a debris field comprised of twisted metal and broken bricks, splintered wood and chunks of concrete.     

“Before I got involved with this, whenever I’d take my son to the library (across the street) I’d think: somebody’s got to do something about that, so I’m glad to be doing something about it,” said Letts, one of the co-owners of the proposed “Five-Three” development that will be located at 53 Putnam St., opposite the Saratoga Springs Public Library. 

The initial intent was to revamp the existing two-story building and create a performance venue with a food service component. Those plans changed after the site was revealed to be contaminated from its earlier use as a dry clean facility as well as sustaining oil contamination from an offsite source.

“When we learned about all the environmental conditions, it wasn’t feasible,” Letts said. “The building had asbestos and was completely dilapidated. It had to go. The next step is removing five feet of soil, and also some oil.”

Environmental remediation is being conducted via the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program –an alternative to greenfield development and intended to remove some of the barriers to, and provide tax incentives for, the redevelopment of urban brownfields.

Late in 2018, the group proposed the development of a six-story building featuring 40 condominium units in the $400,000 to $800,000 price range topped by a roof deck, pergola and a stair tower – which would top-off at 84 feet above ground-level.

Those plans have since been scaled back to a proposal of four floors and a partial “setback” fifth floor, Letts said. The number of condo units has also been amended to about 23 apartments in all. The price point will stay the same as initially proposed.

Earlier plans for a ground floor communal-type kitchen have also been amended and will instead likely feature a restaurant. Letts said there is strong interest from Capital Region based restaurants seeking to move into Saratoga.

The group is currently responding to some unresolved questions posed by the city’s Land Use boards, but the hope is that approvals will be secured in short order.

“We’re hoping to really get going in the fall. From that point, our construction manager is talking about an 18-month construction period,” Letts said. There are no plans for on-site parking. “That’s something we’re still working out,” he added. “We’re excited about making our city cleaner and more vibrant and we think this will be a big revitalization to some of the slightly off-Broadway areas.” 


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