Robinson’s Hardware plans to demolish building to expand parking lot

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
The owners of Robinson’s Hardware at 1874 Western Ave. want to demolish the rental building next door, at right, and redesign the entire lot to create many more parking spaces.

GUILDERLAND — Garry Robinson wants a bigger parking lot for his Ace hardware store at 1874 Western Ave. He plans to tear down the building next door that has been, over the years, an auto-parts shop, a jewelry store, a bicycle store, and a Dairy Queen. 

The hardware store is doing well, Robinson told the planning board on Jan. 8, but is limited by its parking. He and project engineer John Romeo of Insite Engineering appeared before the board for a referral to the zoning board of appeals, and will be back before the planning board on Jan. 22 with revised site plans. 

Robinson often hears from people who say they have driven past when the lot was too full and from truck drivers unable to get in with their large vehicles. 

The store is also updating its inventory, Robinson told the board, noting that the company has put almost $125,000 into “fresh inventory.” The store will have a “grand reopening” in the spring, he told the board. 

Garry Robinson owns the entire property, he told The Enterprise, but his son, Judd Robinson, owns the business, together with a partner, William Swartz III. Garry Robinson retired from the business in 2014.

“I’m the landlord, basically,” he told The Enterprise. 

The business has been in the family for generations. Garry Robinson’s father bought the property from the Witte for whom Witte Road was named; Witte had built the houses on the road neighboring the property.

Years ago, Garry Robinson took over from his father, who had bought it, along with a partner, Matthew (“Bud”) Hennet, in 1958. Two decades later, in 1979, Garry Robinson and his brother, Michael Robinson, bought out Hennet’s share and took over the business and changed the name from Robinson and Hennet to Robinson’s Hardware. 

In 1984, Garry Robinson and his brother also bought the property next door, with the building he now proposes to demolish, at 1890 Western Ave. and made it into an auto-parts store. A decade later, his brother left the business and Garry Robinson joined the ACE corporation.

In 2015, his son and Swartz also opened a department to rent out equipment at the building now proposed for demolition. In 2016, they also bought a second shop location, formerly Olsen’s Hardware and Garden Center, at 1900 New Scotland Road. That location is now known as Robinson Hardware and Garden Center. 

Robinson’s Hardware is one of the oldest businesses in Guilderland, Garry Robinson told The Enterprise.

The income from the building to be demolished was “one of my retirement-type incomes,” Garry Robinson told the planning board Jan. 8. “We want to design it so we can handle the flow of cars and get things kind of cleaned up around the property as well.”

The original site plan shown on Jan. 8 raised the total number of parking spaces throughout the property from 29 to 52, not including seven spaces located between the hardware store and Western Avenue, parallel to Route 20, that are located within the New York State Department of Transportation right-of-way. 

The planning board raised some concerns about the initial site plan. The board wanted to see some landscaping and the inclusion of end islands, which board Chairman Stephen Feeney said serve many functions, including slowing down cars. 

Feeney also said he didn’t want any parking spaces that were close enough to curb cuts that they could cause conflicts with cars entering from busy Western Avenue. If cars were slowing down on Western Avenue to turn in but were then blocked by cars backing out of parking spaces, he said, that situation could easily lead to a rear-end collision. 

In the revised site plan, the spaces nearest the curb cut have been removed and replaced with no-parking striping. A crosswalk from the parking lot to the store is now shown. The seven spaces in the right-of-way between the store and Western Avenue have been removed. As was also true in the earlier site plan, an expanded display area fronts the western side of the hardware store. 

Rentals of walk-behind equipment — once leased from the building to be demolished — such as snowblowers and lawnmowers will still be available at the Guilderland store. Larger items such as woodchippers or lifts will be available at the Slingerlands store, Robinson told The Enterprise. Repairs have moved back to the service counter inside the hardware store. 

The curb cut at Witte Road, to allow cars to access the traffic light there, remains in the revised site plan. 

There are no end islands proposed at this point, Romeo of Insite Engineering told The Enterprise this week. 

Romeo added, “I feel everything we’re proposing will be a great improvement.” 

More Guilderland News

  • Pyramid Management will pay the Guilderland Police Department the cost of hiring two new officers in exchange for the department’s increasing to full-time two officers’ patrols at Crossgates Mall, paid for by the force itself. The officers who patrol the mall are detectives and paid more than new hires. 

  • Until litigation against the project resolves, no progress will be made on the question of what the approved Hiawatha Trails project needs to do to meet the state fire code. 

  • A primary will allow Guilderland’s Democratic committee to “harness the energy of more and more Democrats,” committee Chairman Jacob Crawford said Monday night in explaining to the committee why he would be voting to change from a caucus system to a primary. 

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.