The New Paltz village planning board was looking at a plan which might have felt familiar to them. They were being asked to knock down a one-story building and construct three stories which will include a restaurant. As had the application for the building at 51 Main Street, the application for 184 Main proposed a rectangular structure which would be prominent due to its height and location. Unlike 51 Main, which was built to maximize allowable height, this proposed structure would need a variance to build three stories in a zone capping buildings at two-and-a-half. The plans also showed a roof deck.
Milton resident Violet Jamal seeks to build a twelve-room, two-story hotel atop a first-floor restaurant on the lot sandwiched between Convenient Deli and the Awareness Shop. Board members learned that the broader vision guiding this idea was to replace the “receding residential” character of the streetscape by using this building to anchor the top of the “village experience,” theoretically encouraging commercial development to replace converted old homes into downtown.
Restaurants in this zone require a special-use permit. According to board attorney Rick Golden, they’re supposed to require no external changes in historic homes. There is no historic home on this property, though. 184 Main was built as a Jack-in-the-Box and has never lost that character, despite its varied history. It’s been a coffee shop, a hookah bar and a kayak salesroom in recent years. It’s also spent long periods empty. In this case, board members would have to decide how to apply the code in the context of a new building.
The rectangular building on architect Sam Dillehay’s plans is designed to look like one of those old brick factory buildings which got abandoned and then was revitalized as something trendy like art studios. The proposed restaurant would seat 100 (not including seating out front). With the twelve hotel rooms above, the building would be 43 feet at its high point, not including the roof deck.
Noting that this was the highest point in the village, John Oleske said that the structure “feels a little hulking” as it’s now designed. Noelle Kimble suggesting reconsidering the idea of making it look like an old warehouse. On the other hand, the plan would improve perennial runoff problems in the area and reduce impervious surface on a lot that’s entirely paved over right now.
This project would require a number of variances. The applicant does want people to be able to drink on the roof, perhaps with a bar of some kind in operation. No firm plan for its use has been developed, and chair Eve Walter said that the guidelines in the NBR zoning — that being the only place in the village where roof decks are as yet contemplated — should inform that plan.
Walter said that making the project work would require pleasing a great many village volunteers and officials, as well as “the rest of New Paltz.”