Dissonant design at the old Grand Union plaza

Architect’s rendition of the proposed Verizon building.

Having half your new building leased before opening is great if you’re a landlord. But it can also be a headache when your tenant wants to dictate your design.

That’s the problem Mike Piazza faces. His potential tenant, Verizon, wants a specific design for half the building, which could contain two or three stores, and also wants its design to contrast with the other side of the building.

The location, directly in front of the Big Lots Plaza on Route 212, is at a main access route into the town, and would be one of the most visible structures people entering Saugerties would see. The town Planning Board has approved the size and siting of the building, but has asked that the design be modified to give the building a more balanced appearance.

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“What if you used this same design on the other end [of the building]?” planner Dan Shuster wanted to know. “Verizon would go nuts,” architect Paul Jankovitz said. “They want identity.”

Initially, Verizon sent two designs, one of which was somewhat more conventional than the one discussed at the Planning Board meeting last Tuesday. That design is off the table, Jankovitz said.

“When we were dealing with Verizon, they sent us two options,” said Piazza. “There was some confusion about which one they wanted, so we sent the one that was more benign. About two weeks ago, we had a conversation with the CEO, but they were adamant about keeping the identity. They know it works for them; the black border with the red awning. They are pretty adamant about what works for them.”

“We’re stuck,” Piazza said. “We think Verizon would be a great tenant for this spot. We’re just going to have to deal with what they believe works for them.”

Planning Board member Ken Goldberg said he had researched Verizon building designs online, and “I found a variety of them, very different from this,” he said. In particular, Goldberg pointed out an article in an online magazine describing Verizon’s recent store redesign, with a simpler logo on the store front. An online article at Pocketnow.com shows a white concrete building with a simple squared-off front and the Verizon logo in white.

Citing his full page of photos, Goldberg asked, “Why is this the design they’ve got to stick to?”

Piazza said he doesn’t know the reason, but “this is a marketing thing that works for them.” And, he acknowledged, he has seen a variety of designs in different parts of the country. However, he noted, Verizon has a clause in its contract with him that would allow the company to cancel its contract with him.

One difference between the concept picture and the actual sign that might be constructed is that a sign facing the side of the building would have to be eliminated to meet the Town of Saugerties sign law, Jankovitz acknowledged.

However, Planning Board member Dan Weeks said, “I think we could be a little stubborn about this façade without losing you your client.” But Piazza maintained that virtually all national companies would insist that their standard design be incorporated into the building.

“The problem isn’t this particular façade design, but that it bears absolutely no relation to the other side of the building. It looks like two buildings. It looks like Paul [Jankovitz] made a mistake on his computer and put two buildings together.”

Jankovitz agreed to go back to Verizon and discuss such changes as aligning the parapets of the two sides of the building and having the two sides of the building more symmetrical around the center entry.

Planning Board alternate member Bill Hayes warned Piazza that “if they decide to move out, you have that single building, and if they are not the same on both ends it could cause someone not to move in there.” However, Piazza noted the façade could be changed if that were to happen.

“You can tell them [Verizon] that you have site plan approval, and that the board concurs that the basic solution is that you do the other end of the building with the same configuration but in different colors,” Shuster said. Piazza agreed to accept the suggestion, saying that if Verizon doesn’t agree, he will have to be back next month.

There are 3 comments

  1. Matt Gleason

    Well now… that’s just too bad!! A corporation has to follow some rules! Darn those tax payers and planning board people. Try this.. tell Verizon you will be contacting AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Taco Bell and anyone else who would love to have their logo visible from an I-87 exit! Not just any exit, the exit which within a year just might be the yellow brick road to the best entertainment venue in the northeast! I believe the residents of Saugerties have a right to dictate what their community looks like.

  2. Mark

    I’ve worked for two NY developers and the position of Verizon is total BS. They could change their look, brand, color schem tomorrow and probably will. This is when someone internally with ego trip and power position wants/thinks they can push around a small landlord and town. Has the owner spoken to AT&T, T-Mobile. Personally I would prefer an AT&T store they are much more attractive.

    Mr Piazza, please don’t let this tenant push us around. You’ll rent up the space in no time with an attractive building design and perhaps get a better tenant than a cell store. Where else are they going to get space, there isn’t any….this is a great location.

  3. josepha gutelius

    Saugerties has a Comprehensive Plan (with design guidelines) that the Planning Board is responsible for enforcing. Not to enforce it is against the law. A billion-dollar company like Verizon — whose CEO has a salary of 23 million dollars — cannot dictate terms that are against our local law.
    Verizon has the money to design a charming structure that enhances Saugerties’ gateway. We deserve to have a strong Planning Board and a company that cares about the town. Anything less than that is an insult to the community.

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