The consensus of the Local Planning Committee (LPC) for Gloversville’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant on Wednesday eliminated the proposed $844,100 Eccentric Club Public Event Space project from the list of the projects looking to tap into the grant.
The LPC conducted its third public meeting Wednesday in its process for determining what economic development projects should be included in the “Strategic Investment Plan,” the final slate of projects applying to the state for money from the $10 million grant.
After a two-hour meeting, held virtually via Zoom, the committee discussed all 20 proposed DRI projects and decided to eliminate the Eccentric Club project, while flagging six other projects as still having significant questions that need to be answered before they will be considered for inclusion in the final Strategic Investment Plan.
These are the six projects that need to provide additional answers by the LPC’s next public meeting June 5:
• Rehabilitation of 13 North Main St. into the “Happy Mug” coffee shop, seeking $945,000 in DRI funding, 38% of total project cost of $2.5 million.
• Renovation of 18 E. Fulton St. into a modern commercial office space, seeking $300,000 in DRI funding, 60% of total $500,000 project cost.
• Main Street Corner project to rehabilitate 2-10 S. Main St. to add six residential units, seeking $962,000, 40% of the total project cost of $2.4 million.
• Revitalization of Daniel Hayes Mill project to create 20 loft apartments, seeking $1.6 million in DRI funding, 40% of the $3.9 million project cost.
• Schine Memorial Hall Arts Initiative to renovate the third floor of 30 N. Main St. to house the Storto Glove Museum and create a coworking space for artists, seeking $345,906 in DRI funding, 85% of the $406,948 total project cost.
• Making the Piazza project to transform 12-18 S. Main St. into a public gathering place for weekly concerts and outdoor movies, seeking $435,000 in DRI funding, 60% of the total $725,000 project cost.
“For those projects there hasn’t been enough information yet from the sponsors of those projects,” said LPC member and Gloversville Enlarged School District Superintendent David Halloran. “The chairpersons and the committee want to give the some more time. I don’t want to say any of them are ‘dead on arrival’, but there’s a general feeling that some of those aren’t going to come through because of a lack of communication, but others are still communicating and are only missing a few components or questions that were raised today that need to be answered prior to making a final determination in their inclusion [in the Strategic Investment Plan].”
The Eccentric Club project was the first of the 20 potential projects knocked out after a discussion among the LPC Wednesday. The Eccentric Club was applying for $253,230 in DRI funding, 30% of the total project cost, to help pay for a roof replacement, an elevator and other renovations for the private club’s 109 N. Main St. location.
One of the goals of the Eccentric Club’s proposed project was to enable the club’s long-closed third floor to reopen as a unique event space that could be rented out to members of the public for large gatherings, such as wedding receptions, something the club had the capacity to do in the past, but has been closed for decades.
Regional Director for the New York state Empire State Development Corp. Mike Reese, one of the consultants advising the 15-member LPC, told the group that in the past he’s worked on a DRI grant for another community where the LPC there decided not to include a proposed project from a private club. He said he believes officials at New York state’s Empire State Development Corp. would be unlikely to support state funding going to a project at a private club where members “pay dues to be a member.”
Daniel Lampan, a New state Dept. of State official attending the meeting, told the LPC there is “no, hard stop on these types of projects, but we share all of the concerns that Mike Reese brought up, and we encourage the LPC to take those same concerns into consideration, but we’ll stop short of telling them what to do.”
LPC member Geoff Peck, who is the president of the Eccentric Club, as well as the Gloversville Planning Board president and vice president of population health for Nathan Littauer Hospital, said he’d like to make a comment, but acknowledged he has a conflict of interest.
Mayor Vince DeSantis, the LPC’s co-chair and a member of the Eccentric Club, said he also can not weigh in on the club’s application.
“I have a conflict as well, and I just don’t think it’s appropriate that either myself or Geoff speak on this,” DeSantis said.
LPC co-chair Wally Hart, the division director of community and business development for Lexington ARC, wondered whether the Eccentric Club’s plan to form a nonprofit corporation arm for its foundation as part of its plan to renovate the building should be considered as a factor for the process.
Hart said it’s clear the state and private sector consultants helping the LPC have advised the Eccentric Club proposal would likely not be looked upon favorably by the state for DRI funding. He asked the committee whether a final “project profile” for the club’s application should be created for final consideration as part of the Strategic Investment Plan.
Several members of the LPC including Halloran, city resident Christine Pesses, “I Can Breathe and I Will Speak” non-profit founder Lashawn Hawkins, and 1st Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss all said that although the Eccentric Club is an important building to Gloversville’s downtown the project doesn’t really fit the goals of the DRI.
After acknowledging his conflict, the LPC’s consultants asked DeSantis as co-chair of the LPC what his interpretation was of the consensus of the committee on the Eccentric Club proposal.
“Based on what I’m hearing, I think it should be eliminated from consideration,” DeSantis said.
No LPC member offered support for keeping the Eccentric Club’s proposal in the mix for potential DRI funding and the committee moved on to other topics