CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — Clifton Park-based DCG Development is seeking approval for 50 apartments in the busy Route 146 corridor near the intersection with Tallow Wood Drive.
The company wants to build a three-story apartment building that would front on Tallow Wood Drive and convert an existing two-story, underused, office building to the east into more apartments. The conversion of the existing building would be done over time.
The 12,000-square-foot Tallow Wood Drive building would have 34 one and two bedroom apartments while the converted 19,000-square-foot office building at 855 Route 146 would have 16 units.
DCG Development owns the vacant two-acre parcel on Tallow Wood Drive and the under-occupied office building. The company owns a third building next door that houses St. Peter’s Medical Campus. Taken together the three buildings have approximately eight acres of land.
DCG’s representative at the Feb. 26 Planning Board meeting noted the Tallow Wood parcel’s TC5 zoning is considered transitional.
“We’re taking intense office uses and St. Peter’s Hospital Partners’ offices and we’re constructing apartments,” DCG’s representative Joseph Dannible told the board. “It’s a market-driven project that will slowly go from offices to residential use. In total, we’ll construct 50 units on the properties.”
The three-story apartment building is an approved use for the Tallow Wood Drive site, but to make the conversion in either of the office buildings, where the first floor is designated as being for office use only, the company will need waivers.
In answering a resident’s question as to how close to Tallow Wood Drive the new building would be built, Dannible said it would be within 10 feet or 15 feet of the street. Parallel parking on Tallow Wood Drive is part of the DCG plan as are sidewalks and street lamps.
“This [project] will add more traffic and parking to Tallow Wood Drive,” said Anthony LaFleche. “It’s already congested. “If you can design your interior roadways to get people to the east, to Maxwell Drive, it will be appreciated. You’d be relieving excess traffic from Tallow Wood. The people who live there will appreciate it.”
Greg Laniewski lives on Tallow Wood and was at the meeting. He followed up on LaFleche’s questions by noting the recent proposal to build 50 apartments on the vacant K-Mart site.
“I implore you,” he said, speaking to the board, “You’re talking 180 apartments that are within feet of each other. That seems like a bad thing to happen. When do the positives become a negative? What about the quality of life? It’s getting to the point where it’s saturated now. There are a couple of vacant lots on Maxwell Drive. What happens if apartments go there?”
Planning Board Chairman Rocco Ferro responded that one of the reasons for the influx of apartment proposals in the Town Center area is due to the contraction of the retail industry.
“There are too many vacant buildings, storefronts,” he said. “These [projects] provide an alternative. This is a market niche that is being investigated.”
Laniewski was accepting of the position, but firm in his own.
“Have you ever tried to get across [Route] 146,” he answered. “You have a Town Center with walking, but try walking it.”
Planning Board member Andy Neubauer found many good things about the proposal, especially the sidewalks and street lights for Tallow Wood Drive, but he was concerned with the project’s need for waivers.
“We’re adding Mixed-Use Residential [zoning] to TC4, which allows office use,” he said. “All the other residential projects [approved] in the Town Center are TC2. This is the first where we’re being asked to approve one with no TC2.”
Fellow board member Emad Andarawis was comfortable with the new building, but concerned with the conversion of the office building.
“We’re going overboard,” he said. “If you want walkable then, you have to have somewhere to walk to.”
Speaking for DCG Development, company vice president Don MacElroy said the company was ”very committed to keeping the retail component in the downtown area.”
Board member Eric Ophardt saw no problems with the apartments or with converting the third building to residential at some point in the future.
“If they can’t fill commercial then switching to residential is a good idea,” he said. “I think having all three buildings as apartments, is okay.”
Ferraro noted that he liked the project as an “in-fill” project, but noted that residential housing surrounds it.
After the meeting, Laniewski reflected on the realities of development in a community that is growing.
“They tried,” he said of the board. “If [DCG] doesn’t get what they want with the waiver they’ll find a way to get something.”