Signs on the hotel at Crossgates will exceed town limit sevenfold

The Enterprise — Michael Koff 
The five-story hotel under construction in front of Crossgates Mall rises high above Western Avenue. 

GUILDERLAND — The zoning board approved a request on Feb. 21 by J. Michael Gately, general manager of Crossgates Mall, for variances to permit seven times the allowed square footage of signs to identify the five-story, 121,000-square-foot hotel currently being built on Western Avenue in front of the mall.

The town code allows 50 square feet. The hotel will have 359 square feet of signs.

The building will also have a total of eight signs where two are normally permitted, as well as six signs to be installed higher than 20 feet above grade where none are normally permitted.

In making his motion to approve the request, board Chairman Thomas Remmert offered that the 359 square feet is “the minimum needed.”

Only two signs will be visible in any one direction, near the building’s roof, with one saying “Tru” and the other “Homewood Suites.” “Each sign that we put up on the building is designed to capture a different customer coming from a different way,” Gately told the board.

One additional sign nearer ground level is intended to catch the eye of pedestrians or people coming off the bus, Gately said.

The hotel is to be dual-branded and will feature two distinct hotels under one roof, both part of the Hilton Worldwide umbrella, Gately said. Homewood Suites by Hilton, which targets business and extended-stay travelers, will have 96 suites, while midscale-brand Tru by Hilton will also have 96 rooms.

Dual branding means that the project should be treated as “under the same roof but different,” Gately said, and the board agreed, without discussing the idea that the amounts approved were more than three times the total of 100 square feet of that would be allowed under the code for two separate projects.

Seventy-eight of the 359 square feet will be taken up by a 10-foot-tall monument sign near the southwestern edge of the property, near the property’s new Western Avenue entrance, which Chief Building and Zoning Inspector Jacqueline Coons said this week would be approximately where the entrance to Wendy’s restaurant was.

Travelers will enter and exit that entrance with right turns only, Coons noted, so people coming from the direction of Altamont would need to go up to the so-called “English couplet,” or the main entrance to Crossgates Mall on Western Avenue.

The monument and other signs help to identify the building, Gately said, which is important because it is set far back on the site; from Western Avenue, it’s 194 feet back from the 25-foot setback, he said, and it is angled within the site.

The other seven signs will consist of four building-mounted signs, about 26 square feet each, for Homewood Suites and three building-mounted signs, at 59 square feet each, for Tru. The lettering on the signs will be illuminated white at night and darker-colored during the day.

Remmert compared this request to one that came from another project that included two businesses under one roof: Jacob & Anthony’s, a sit-down restaurant, and Bellini’s Counter, a takeout business. Both are located in the same building at Stuyvesant Plaza, at the corner of Fuller Road and Route 20, in the site once occupied by Howard Johnson’s, then Mangia and, later, Creo.

Those two businesses have separate entrances, where the two hotels have a shared entrance and shared lobby.

In November 2016, the zoning board allowed Jacob & Anthony’s and Bellini’s a total of 110 square feet of signs for the building, which is located similarly in front of a shopping mall and visible from two different streets. In that decision, the minutes say, “The building is unique in that all four sides face public areas.”

No zoning board members asked Gately to discuss whether the hotel could do with fewer or smaller signs.

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