City National Commons

GLOVERSVILLE – Before Scott Hohenforst purchased the former City National Bank building in downtown in December, he and his property manager Brent Albers toured the 35,000 square foot property to see exactly what they would be in for if Hohenforst decided to take on the project of renovating and repurposing the property in the heart of downtown.

Albers said they liked what they saw.

“[The previous owner NBT Bank] put a lot of money into it themselves and did an excellent job with maintenance, so we took over a project that wasn’t really bad,” Albers said.

In only eight months since the purchase, many in downtown Gloversville have liked what they’ve seen with the progress made at what is now called City National Commons. The property has hosted several community events, including the NYS Urban Council in April and the Southern Adirondack Wine and Food Festival in June. Albers has been busy renovating the interior of the buildings and enhancing the exterior of the buildings with plants, flowers and a new sign.

“I think it’s definitely already in the process of beautifying the downtown. I think it’s another fine architectural structure that is being returned to its previous glory,” Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market manager Chris Curro said.

Albers said he’s received a lot of positive feedback about the project.

“Everybody who’s lived here their whole lives remembers this as having been City National Bank, so that’s why Scott chose the name City National Commons, and we’ve gotten a lot of compliments from business people and older people for that,” he said. “People say, ‘Oh my God, your property looks amazing. I can’t believe you did all of those flowers and the new sign.’ I think what we’re trying to point out is now everybody else has got to step up, because other properties may now look bad while ours looks good. It seems to be a fever which is catching on.”

New vision

Albers said the City National Common property is actually three distinct buildings that the former bank essentially connected by blowing holes in the walls of the structures.

These are the three structures and the preliminary plan for each:

  • 10 N. Main, a two story building that could be converted into three high-end professional apartments.
  • 12-22 N. Main, the main bank building, which includes three floors, and will be used to host events for now.
  • 24 N. Main, a three story building, which has the administrative and executive offices of the Family Counseling Center as the tenant on the first floor and will soon have that organization occupying a portion of the second floor. The third floor could be used a high-end apartment or office space.

Albers said part of the interior renovation work he’s been doing has been reestablishing the three structures as separate entities in terms of the city’s fire code. The buildings are also being enhanced to “go green’ including energy efficiency and all LED lighting. He credited Hohenforst with having a vision for upgrading the properties.

“He does everything above board. It doesn’t matter if it’s his living room or your office. I mean, I don’t even call to ask anymore. There’s a right way and there’s a wrong way and there’s a way that’s probably a little bit better than both and that’s Scott’s way,” he said. “I’ve worked downtown restoration work in Gloversville for over 30 years. I haven’t done anything that isn’t Scott’s work in more than two years, and he’s thinking outside of the box, ahead of the program and moving onto the next project before I can get the last three things that he said to get done done.”

Downtown investment

Curro said Honhenforst’s choice of the Family Counseling Center as a tenant for his building has already helped downtown Gloversville.

“The Family Counseling Center consists of really professional people, doing amazing things for families with children and parents. They add a sense of professionalism to downtown and they’re definitely shopping the co-op,” he said. “Scott is one of the best things to happen to downtown since we opened.”

Hohenforst, who started his first company Empire Chemical Sales, located on West Fulton Street, when he was 22, said he believes in investing in Gloversville.

“It’s where I live. It’s where we raise our children. I see quite an inspiration in downtown. I don’t think about any of the negative atmosphere, we want to be a part of the positive atmosphere moving forward. This an opportunity to lead by example, not that we’re doing anything great, but we’re doing what we can, ” he said. “I love those old buildings. I love Gloversville, I love downtown and if we can create that niche market, as we need to in downtown Gloversville, we’re all going to prosper from it.”

He said he isn’t sure what the main bank building of his project will become, but he has ideas.

“Basically we’re listening to the community to see what the best fit is for downtown,” he said. “It’s purely conversations at this point. We have had a few events there that went over very, very well for the attendees. We’ll probably, during the interim stage, continue to do that, as downtown Gloversville needs a facility for some events downtown. We’re more than willing to work with anyone on that. What the longterm future might be, whether it could be an upscale restaurant, that’s possible. I’m not convinced on anything yet.”