Luis Martinez, principal of the Lalo Group, returned with a team of consultants to bring a new application for development of the property colloquially known as the “pit” to New Paltz Village Planning Board members at their August 4 meeting. Where earlier proposals to build on the land bordered by Elting, Hasbrouck, and Plattekill avenues would have required rewritten zoning to support six- and eight-story buildings, the group of commercial buildings in this application won’t even need a variance according to consultants.
This will be a bigger project to review than most current board members have ever tackled. The complex will include a 50-room hotel, a conference center with spa and banquet hall, and a third building with restaurant and other retail topped by offices, all at three stories. The buildings will be connected by a two-level, underground parking garage and loading docks. The plan proposes 363 parking spaces in that subterranean area, which developers say is 41 more than would be necessary. These calculations are based on those 50 hotel rooms, 13,350 square feet of retail space, 30,700 square feet of office space (for which there may already be a committed tenant), and a seating capacity of 280 in the conference center.
Attorney John Capello touted several features of the plan. Hotels require backup generators, meaning that this one with its central location would not only be within walking distance of many businesses, ibut also could become a “central emergency response” and “gathering place” during emergencies.
Guests would include tourists, visitors to the college, and those doing business with office tenants and using the conference center. Capello said that the office space will be used by a local technology company, the owners of which wish to expand within the village. All told, 300 jobs will be created once the complex is up and running, the attorney predicted. He was not asked whether tax breaks would be sought through the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency, where the number of permanent jobs created is a consideration.
Landscape architect Justin Dates explained that access to the site will be via a private drive that will run from Plattekill to Hasbrouck avenues. There won’t be a connection to the municipal lot, as had been proposed in an earlier plan. A walkway will wind around the property, and there will be a plaza near the retail space. The plan also includes an outdoor deck on the third story of the conference center, and two roof gardens atop the office building.
Though the architectural style of the three buildings has not yet been designed, it will be “something that complements the community” according to architect Jason Anderson. The scaled-back design derives in large part from feedback provided on the larger design that had been proposed a couple of years ago.
On the recommendation of board attorney Rick Golden, the planning board declared this project a Type 1 action pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act. While the project falls short of the normal 500-space parking threshold, its contiguity with an historic district triggers a more extensive environmental review with 125 spaces or more/ in this case. The environmental impact statement will determine whether there is a significant impact and how that impact can be adequately mitigated.
Golden also laid out a number of issues that would have to be clarified. The village planning board can’t even declare an intent to assume lead-agency status until a full environmental assessment form is filed, he said. There are also a number of details needed regarding building heights and restaurant seating. Golden said that guidance from the building inspector on questions such as parking requirements for a spa and requirements for a “commercial group” should be sought as soon as possible.
The village board will be named as an involved agency because its authorization is needed for water and sewer hookups. The sewage to be generated from this project is estimated at 15,500 gallons per day. This project will have to be reviewed at the county level once the application is complete and will require a public hearing.
Should approval be granted, Martinez estimated, he could get the entire project built in no more than two years.