LEEDS — Officials are eyeing a new hotel as a possibility for a 65-acre site on Route 23B.
The demolition of four buildings, located across from Anthony’s Banquet Hall, began Monday and is expected to wrap up today. The Greene County Industrial Development Agency purchased eight lots in January 2017 for development.
The site had five buildings — three had tenants, and two had owners who bought new homes, IDA Executive Director Rene VanSchaack said.
“We gave them six months rent-free before they had to move out,” VanSchaack said, adding it was a cooperative and amicable negotiation. “Everyone was treated fairly: the IDA with the price and the landowners with the price and time to move out.”
VanSchaack expects the IDA to market the space to developers this winter and more work will take place on the site in the spring.
“We’ll market to multiple sources and uses,” VanSchaack said. “Our goal is to bring in something for that’s good for tourism and generates sales tax.”
The project has cost the IDA about $2.5 million so far, VanSchaack said. Purchasing the eight properties, which total 65 acres, cost $2 million, survey work and state environmental review fees cost $300,000 and the demolition work was $100,000, he said.
The IDA hired Bronze Contracting LLC, of Remsen, to complete the demolition work.
“The IDA budget put us in a good position… we have enough time to figure out the right uses,” VanSchaack said, adding the reward from the project will justify the cost.
The location on Route 23B would be ideal for attracting visitors from the New York State Thruway, Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said.
“We have probably 20,000 to 30,000 cars going through there every day,” he said. “It’s where you want development; it’s where you want high density and traffic — not in residential parts of the town or the county where there will be resistance from people already living there.”
Anthony Gjergji, the owner of Anthony’s Banquet Hall, is pleased about plans to develop the parcel.
“Maybe we can have a hotel now,” he said. “We need it in this section.”
Anthony’s used to hold 20 weddings a year, but that number has dwindled to between five and eight, Gjergji said, because nothing has replaced the former Quality Inn on Route 23B, which has sat vacant in the hamlet for nearly a decade.
“Why come here when there’s no hotel?” Gjergji said. “People stop here to go to court or see a friend… I hope this [project] will put Catskill on the map.”
County lawmakers authorized the Quality Inn to be sold in September 2017. Demolition of the hotel is expected to begin within the next 30 days, Groden said, adding he hopes a hotel will be one of the things developed in the space.
The IDA is also working on the Quality Inn site, VanSchaack said. The property will be marketed to developers once the site has been prepped.
“A big hope is that hotel chains will come in,” Groden said. “They follow each other — when a Hampton Inn comes, so does a Fairfield Inn. They feed off each other.”
The Leeds-Jefferson Heights sewer project is also helping to spur the area’s development, Groden said.
“You have to have infrastructure,” he said. “If you don’t have sewers, you’re stuck.”
Prior to the sewer project, the properties had septic systems, VanSchaack said.
One of the five buildings on the site — a small commercial building that was formerly a garage — is salvageable, VanSchaack said. The business has been closed for three to four years.
The building will be repainted and will likely be a separate lot with its own entrance from the other seven properties, which will share an entrance, he said.
“We’re combining all eight lots into one and then chopping them up depending on the needs of developers,” VanSchaack said. “It will look a lot better by fall. It’s the gateway to the community.”
A back portion of the property will continue be used as a storage area for equipment used for the town’s sewer project, VanSchaack said, adding it has served that purpose for the past three summers.
“People have been talking about developing this land for 25 years,” he said.
To reach reporter Sarah Trafton, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org