In New Paltz, new Stewart’s project inches closer to groundbreaking

(Photo by Lauren Thomas)

If you’ve driven through the intersection of Route 32 North and Henry W. DuBois Drive lately, you may have noticed something missing: the eyesore of a gas station most recently known as Kwik Mart. Both the canopy and the tiny cashier’s booth have been demolished to make way for a new Stewart’s Shop at 76 North Chestnut Street, which will soon take the place of the existing Stewart’s a few blocks further north. “It’s kind of exciting, because it’s a super-Stewart’s,” said Village of New Paltz building inspector Cory Wirthmann.

Also gone from the 1.556-acre site are the gasoline tanks that formerly serviced Kwik Mart. “The tanks were so old that there was some leakage, but that has been remediated,” Wirthmann explained. “All the dirt was removed to a remediation facility – hundreds of truckloads. This is all new fill.” The fill has been loosely tamped down, but not yet permanently resurfaced, since new tanks still need to be buried on the site to supply gas to the eight new canopied islands planned for the Stewart’s Shop.

To enable access by large gasoline tanker trucks, as well as to improve traffic safety at the intersection, the entrance/exit on the Route 32 side will be moved further north, closer to the intersection, with only right turns in and out. The other entrance/exit on the DuBois Drive side will be widened, with a turn lane added. And the intersection itself will acquire a traffic light for the first time, which was a condition for traffic plan approval from the New York State Department of Transportation, according to Wirthmann.

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The footprint of the new Stewart’s Shop will be about 4,000 square feet. It will only have one story of habitable space, but the elevations show an extra half-story to enhance the building’s visual appeal and bring it more into conformance with the aesthetic guidelines of the North Chestnut Neighborhood Business Corridor. Outdoor seating areas with picnic tables and bike racks will wrap around two sides of the building, which lies less than a block away from the Wallkill Valley/Hudson Valley Rail Trail connector route where it turns from DuBois onto Mulberry Street.

A building permit cannot be issued for the new Stewart’s until the New Paltz Village Planning Board turns over signed copies of the finalized site plan, Wirthmann said, and the detail that’s holding that up at this point is approval of the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) required for such a site. The square footage of pavement for the new facility will be even larger than its predecessor, with concrete pads for the gas pump area, parking spaces and patios, and with blacktopped vehicle circulation routes. That means potentially more stormwater runoff needing to be channeled away from the surface of the ground into catchbasins. The SWPPP is currently under review by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Village’s stormwater control officer, Bleu Terwilliger.

Still standing at this point are two buildings that can’t be demolished until the site plan is finalized. One, a brown single-family residence on the southern end of the lot that is referred to as 3 Broadhead Avenue, even though it is technically part of the same 76 North Chestnut parcel, has been vacant for years, condemned because the “foundation is structurally unsound,” Wirthmann said. The south side of the Stewart’s building will ultimately extend over part of the site of that house, while the rest of the southern end of the lot will be green space.

At the rear of the lot, to the east, stands the abandoned convenience store known by a variety of names over the years, including McPeady’s. Wirthmann noted that the corridor plan calls for restoring existing buildings where possible, or replacing them with mixed-use buildings with housing on the second story, but that an exception was being made by the Village in this case, “because it’s so dilapidated and so in need of upkeep. We’re getting rid of a building that is potentially dangerous… It has already been abated for asbestos and lead.” Once demolition of the former store is complete, parking spaces for Stewart’s will take up part of its footprint and the rest landscaped. The existing tenant business on the east side of the lot, Tow-Rific Auto Service, will be allowed to stay.

No date has yet been set for the start of construction, but Wirthmann said that the project manager for Stewart’s had estimated a minimum of three months for completion once building permits have been issued, McPeady’s and 3 Broadhead have been cleared away and shovels are in the ground.

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