Residents of Saratoga’s Excelsior Park push back on apartment expansion


SARATOGA SPRINGS — Residents of the Excelsior Park Community Association will gather Thursday night at the city’s planning board meeting to demand that a development proposal in their isolated neighborhood be reconsidered.

Members of the homeowners association say residents are already struggling with a narrow, single entrance off a boulevard in their cul-de-sac because there is barely enough room for emergency vehicles and delivery. Also they say there is too much traffic now and there is not enough parking. Additionally, road and parking expansion is difficult as the neighborhood is circled by Route 50, the Northway, and the Spring Run Trail.

Yet the Planning Board has issued a special use permit to the Excelsior Park project for developer John Witt to expand the construction of new units from the originally approved 200 to 339. The unit expansion will be applied to apartments of Excelsior Avenue, which is part of the project that is on the agenda for Thursday evening. The overall Excelsior Park project will also include 147,600 square feet of retail space.

“The city, the developer and the planning board have made promises to the residents of Excelsior Park,” said resident Carl Korn. “They are throwing these promises out the window and turning a deaf ear to legitimate concerns. This project should not go ahead.

In 2002, Witt asked to build 270 units, townhouses and condos in the neighborhood which also includes the Marriott Residence Inn. The Planning Board rejected this plan, saying it was too dense. The council issued a special use permit to Witt for 200 units. The permit stated that if Witt chose to build affordable housing in his development, he could get a bonus of 30 additional homes. As part of the deal, the developer was to distribute the workforce quarters among the other units, not build them in a separate building.

Then, in 2021, the Planning Board granted a new special use permit to the Excelsior Park project which would allow a revised total of 339 residential units.

“Nothing changed on the footprint of the project after the Planning Board (in 2002) told it was too much,” said resident Mark Richardson. “All he did was increase the density. It’s the same infrastructure.

Witt did not immediately respond to a Times Union request for comment.

Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino said he hopes the Planning Board will take into account that emergency vehicles are already struggling to enter the complex.

“I’ve been there many times,” Montagnino said. “It’s very crowded. It is certainly a problem. I understand their concerns… Something that would create a safety hazard raises a whole host of questions. “

Montagnino also said the city council has no recourse to help residents once the planning board approves a project. He said there is a provision in the charter that will allow council to check with the Planning Board, but that’s about it.

Korn said residents feel they are making progress in the overdevelopment of nearby land by Beacon Communities, which is also part of the Excelsior Park project, after it removed a 70-child daycare center and units for victims of sexual or domestic violence.

He was also pleased that the five council members met with members of the homeowners association, including recently appointed Public Works Commissioner Jason Golub, who visited the site two weeks ago. Korn said Golub was “outraged” and promised to bring in a team to examine the infrastructure. Golub did not immediately return a phone call to inquire about this meeting.

Richardson said the Planning Council “has the opportunity to resolve this issue”.

“It was a mistake and every member of the city council formally or informally agreed with us that there were problems here,” Richardson said. “But the Planning Board is again turning a deaf ear and ignoring the obvious. They have the opportunity before a shovel goes into the ground to fix this. If they don’t, the problems will s ‘aggravate.

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