The Water Street Trails Hotel was back before the Village of New Paltz Planning Board last week, with developers trying to navigate a possible reduction in parking spaces in the plan due to a design reconfiguration.
Issues with the proposal’s connection to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, which runs alongside the north end of the property, may force developers to rethink their exterior plans, including dropping the number of parking spaces from 36 by five. During a Planning Board meeting held on Tuesday, February 7, Barry Medenbach, principal engineer and president of Stone Ridge-based civil engineering and land surveying firm Medenbach & Eggers, said developers had received notice from the Wallkill Valley Land Trust only that morning and were still trying to figure out how it will impact the hotel project.
“The issue now is that the patio is going to be smaller in the back and we may tweak the building (footprint) a little bit more,” Medenbach said. “We pulled the parking out (of the disputed area) and we’re short of the required parking…based on your standards.”
A proposed 28-room, three story inn on property located at 11 Water Street, the Water Street Trails Hotel is the latest project by co-developers Jesse Halliburton and Ryan Giuliani, who previously opened the Woodstock Way Hotel. Halliburton is the owner and principal broker of Prime Real Estate Group in New Jersey, while Giuliani is president and co-founder of boutique hospitality firm Giuliani Social alongside his wife, Mary Giuliani.
The Water Street Trails Hotel will be built alongside the Wallkill River and the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, and will include replacing the sprawling former box factory currently standing on the .82-acre property with a three-story hotel with a little over 7,500-square feet per floor. A 340-square-foot kitchen for a small cafe and lounge is also part of the proposed new build. A proposed 8,250-square foot patio was reduced in scope to 6,100 square feet last December, saving 22 trees initially earmarked for removal.
The property is part of the Gateway (G) District, which according to village zoning code, “corresponds with lands bounded by Wallkill Valley Rail Trail on the west, Water Street to the north and northeast, Mohonk Avenue to the east, Pencil Hill Road to the east and Plains Road to the east.”
The Wallkill Valley Land Trust oversees the 22.5-mile Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, which winds through Ulster County from Gardiner to the City of Kingston, running through New Paltz, Rosendale and the Town of Ulster.
The Planning Board has the discretion to be flexible with the number of parking spaces at the proposed hotel, and if they forced the developer to stick to the municipal formula, they would still have the option of seeking a variance from the Village Board. But Medenbach said they hope to be able to convince the Planning Board that 31 spaces would be sufficient.
“A lot of times people come and rent more than one room in one car,” he said. “In a village setting like this you may have people come on the bus.”
Halliburton added that the Woodstock Way Hotel hosts numerous guests who arrive in Woodstock by bus and have no use for a parking space. He said he expected the same would be true of the Water Street Trails Hotel.
But some Planning Board members were as yet unconvinced, particularly as the proposed hotel is near the popular Water Street Market, a European-style shopping village, where parking is at a premium during its busy hours.
“Go there on the weekend, there’s no parking,” said board member Raquel Carrion. “From a business perspective I’m concerned how you’re going to regulate overflow and managing those people just pulling into your parking lot and parking.”
According to Halliburton, the parking lot at Woodstock Way Hotel has numbered spaces for each of the guest rooms. Giuliani added that it might take some effort on the part of the hotel owners to ensure their parking lot isn’t used by non-guests or visitors to the restaurant, but he was confident it would work.
“We’re going to have a bellhop, we’re going to have people on the property 24-7 monitoring our parking lot, just like we do now in Woodstock,” Giuliani said. “When we first opened our doors in 2018, it wasn’t uncommon for somebody to come in on the property to try to park, but over time, in the first month or two with us being on top of it, people got the picture and didn’t try to park there anymore.”
Traffic concerns remain a possible hurdle for the project as well. Starke Hipp, an assistant project engineer specializing in traffic study with multidisciplinary firm Creighton Manning Engineering, said he didn’t believe the project would add a significant amount of traffic to the area. Creighton Manning conducted a traffic study in December 2022, which will be submitted to the village’s traffic consultant Carlito Holt, a partner with White Plains-based planning, engineering and landscape architecture firm DTS Provident.
The next meeting of the Village of New Paltz Planning Board is scheduled for Tuesday, February 21.