DeSantis’ downtown project approved

Plans to turn 2 buildings into retail, living space

GLOVERSVILLE –Vincent DeSantis’ plan for renovating a downtown building has been approved by the city’s planning board, with hopes to have retail businesses in place by the end of the summer.

On Tuesday, DeSantis was given the green light for a plan to overhaul the exterior of 31 N. Main St. and convert the first floor from an office into a retail establishment.

DeSantis, the Third Ward Councilman and a former city court judge, purchased 31 and 33 N. Main St. in October and plans to renovate both buildings.

The property at 31 N. Main St. will undergo the greatest change.

The building, which currently features a white marble front with three small windows near the top of the first floor, will be overhauled with a goal of bringing back its Victorian-era storefront.

DeSantis is hoping to apply for state and federal Historic Preservation tax credits for 31 N. Main St.

“It is building that has been modernized on the front to the point that it does not [conform] with the historic character of downtown. Changing that back to a Victorian front may qualify for tax breaks,” DeSantis said.

Inside the building, the first floor will be transformed to potentially house two businesses. The second floor will be turned into two loft-style apartments.

There will possibly be another apartment on the third floor, but that will take more time to complete, since it has gone untouched for several decades.

“That’s a really big project. At this point, there is only a ladder and hatchway up to the third floor, and it’s really closed off,” he said. “When you go up the ladder, it’s like a time capsule. It’s stepping back in time to 1910. Everything is deteriorated, the plaster is coming off the walls, you can see the lath in places.”

DeSantis said he is hopeful that within five years the space can be developed into a full apartment.

DeSantis said he has two prospective tenants that are interested in opening up in the space: a bakery/cafe and a juice bar. There will be limited seating available in the space, including some on a planned deck.

He said he hopes to have the businesses and second floor apartments occupied by the end of the summer. He said he has spoken with a couple contractors already about the project.

“Once it gets going, I think it will be very quickly,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis said the tenant at 33 N. Main St. left at the end of April, and someone is interested in taking the space. The one-story building is already zoned for retail. No planning board approval was needed for that property at this point, since there will be no exterior changes to the building.

The building will need minimal work to get it ready for a new tenant. DeSantis does plan to put in some new flooring and work to expose a tin ceiling that is currently covered by a drop ceiling.

“As opposed to [31 N. Main], 33 was very well maintained,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis said he thought that with the eastern side of North Main Street seeing development in the form of the Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market, Schine Memorial Hall and City National Commons, that it was time for the western side of the street to see some new renovations.

“I just think that right now there is a lot of energy going into downtown. A lot of psychological energy and there is a lot of investment downtown,” he said. “Somehow, that had to jump across the street. It had to synergize with something on the other side of the street.”

DeSantis said that the two buildings had been for sale for a long period of time, and he thought they were small enough that he could financially handle the renovations.

DeSantis said the renovations and new businesses could help with the application for the state’s second round of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.

The state will again be awarding 10 communities across New York $10 million for downtown improvement plans.

DeSantis said that it could be helpful for the application to show improvements are already being made.

“Whenever you apply for something like that, they give you points if they feel something is already happening in the downtown,” he said. “So it does help the application.”

DeSantis said elected officials are disqualified from receiving money from the state for this program.

Kerry Minor can be reached at kminor@leaderherald.com.

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