New Clovelea Manor property owner T.J. Anand of Baran Hospitality Group met with the Saugerties Historic Review Board for the first time on May 23, less than a month after his $130,000 purchase of the former Barclay Heights mansion on February 28. Though his plans for the site are still in formation, he is proposing repairs. He has said he hopes to turn the old Dragon Inn building into a bed-and-breakfast with a restaurant and bar.
“We have had some conversations with people in this community about that place,” said Anand to the board and to village board liaison Terry Parisian. “We also heard about the developers who have tried some things [unsuccessfully with the property]. We hope to build something and build it together.”
The four-story property was once the home of Industrialist William Sheffield. Under the ownership of Ching Ya Wu of Woodstock and the name “Dragon Inn,” the site was ravaged by a fire in the 1990s. The now-vandalized, crumbling property was given a historic designation in 2007. Two developers bought and sold the building before Anand purchased it.
Anand introduced to the board members Dave Singh, the young man who will oversee the initial construction and then management of the building along Anand’s son, Josh Anand. The team has decided on a general contractor and is searching for the right architect to repair the building in the spirit of the original. Once an architect is chosen, initial designs for the site will be drawn.
“We’re trying to get as much information as possible so we know what to do and what not to do when we start designing so we’re not creating any hassles,” explained Anands. “It’s best to say, ‘Okay, here’s what we intend to do’ before the architects start designing it — so we don’t waste money trying to do something and trying to fight battles we don’t need to.”
Although the jurisdiction of the historic review board only applies to the façade of the building facing the road, Anand said he intended also to preserve the building’s original nineteenth-century fireplaces, which he described as “romantic.” He told the board that he intends to “preserve as much is preservable.” The only additions he mentioned were a canopy in the front of the building and a deck behind it (the property line extends down the hill behind the building), where Anand says he envisions visitors “enjoying a drink or a meal and getting a beautiful view of the mountains and the Esopus River.”
“The community is going to be behind you with that intent,” Parisian told Anand. “In the past, people were buying [the property] just to try to flip it. No one really had any solid plans. If you use an architect and he knows you’re in a historic district … there wouldn’t be much of a conversation.”
Previous restaurants renovated and run by Baran Hospitality Group, which has “worked under different names,” according to Anand, included an Indian restaurant called “Diya Fusion Indian Cuisine” in Valley Stream between 2007 and 2012 and the Mexican restaurant “Basil Leaf” in Brooklyn in 2003. Anand’s primary gig is as a certified public accountant in New York City, and he lives on Long Island.
Anand said he had never worked with a historic review board before, but that the process has been relatively painless in its initial month.
“We’ve been pretty lucky. We haven’t had too many hurdles or roadblocks,” said Anand. “We met nice people. Everyone is overall very nice, and we haven’t had problems with anyone. The officials we’re working with are pretty easy to work with, and we’re pretty flexible.”
That the project works was all that mattered, he said. The initial signs were positive. “The problem is that everyone in the community is so tired of looking at that eyesore,” Anand explained. “They’re willing to work with someone who will invest money and build something. Hopefully, we’ll all have the same mindset and won’t have too many hassles on one side or the other.”