Proposal for mixed-use building across from Guilderland Town Hall triples in size

— From Singh submittal to the town of Guilderland

The Guilderland Planning Board recently heard a proposal for a project with new ownership. Dr. Karamdeep Singh is seeking to build a 35,000-square-foot, two-and-a-half-story building with 14 residential units and enough space for four commercial tenants on a 1.82-acre site across the street from Guilderland Town Hall. 

GUILDERLAND — The new owner of a proposed project across Route 20 from Town Hall is looking to dramatically increase the size of the development.

Dr. Karamdeep Singh is under contract to purchase the 1.82-acre site from Michael Davidson, who twice before came to the town proposing a smaller mixed-use project.  

 Singh’s proposal is for a 35,000-square-foot, two-and-a-half-story building with 14 residential units and enough space for four commercial tenants; 67 parking spaces are also proposed. 

Town Planner Kenneth Kovalchik explained to the planning board on Feb. 14, “There was a special-use permit that was approved on this site a few years ago, for roughly a 12,000-square-foot mixed-use building. It was to contain “a restaurant, a couple of office uses, and a couple of apartments above. The applicant decided not to pursue that application, so it expired.”

Kovalchik said the new proposal, like its predecessor, did not have the backing of the state’s Department of Transportation for direct access to and from Western Turnpike, so “the primary ingress and egress to the site is off of 20 West Drive.”

Chairman Stephen Feeneney immediately took issue with the size of the proposed building. 

“When we looked at this a long time ago, I mean, the original gross square footage of the building was about 12,000 square feet,” Feeney said to project engineer Luigi Palleschi, “and the way I read our code, Luigi, is … a mixed-use building in local business district can’t exceed 25,000 square feet.”

The chair continued, “So, I mean … you’re at almost 35,000 square feet,” which to Feeney is “exceeding what’s permitted by a significant amount, size-wise.”

Feeney also said Singh was proposing more apartments than what’s allowed for the zoning district. 

“It’s much bigger than we allow,” Feeney said of the proposed 14 apartments. “We’ve had some debate about this too, but we only allow 12 units in a mix-use local …,” he said. “But the main thing is the building size, the gross square footage is defined as no more than 25,000 square feet.”

Feeney said Singh had every right to go before the zoning board, the project’s lead agency, to try to obtain a variance for the building size, but it seemed unlikely the zoning board would grant the request.  

Palleschi, for his part, was quick to state that Singh would likely be amenable to bringing the project into compliance with the town’s zoning for the area.  

The board ultimately did not sign off on the site plan, choosing instead to have Pallleschi come back with a plan in alignment with the town code. 


Halal market

Just a month after tabling a proposal for a halal market on Western Avenue, the planning board on Feb. 14 OK’d its end of the project approval process. 

“Yeah, so this is the second time the application has been in front of the board,” Kovalchik told board members. “It was last reviewed at the January 10th meeting. The board decided to table the application, for the applicant to prepare a better site plan at that time.”

Kovalchik noted the project was recently before the Albany County Planning Board, which recommended disapproval of the application. “They had concerns with the compatibility of the use with the neighborhood and [setting] an undesirable precedent for the type of the use,” he said.

The disapproval would be a matter for the zoning board, the lead agency for the proposal, to deal with, Kovalchik said. “Whenever there’s a disapproval from the county, it requires a supermajority …  vote from the zoning board,” he said, meaning that four of the zoning board’s five members would have to vote in favor for the project to move forward.

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