Rip Van Dam site project gets initial look
SARATOGA SPRINGS Two Saratoga Springs land use boards gave a generally favorable review of conceptual plans for a 160-unit, six-story hotel behind the Rip Van Dam building at 353 Broadway at a joint meeting Wednesday.
The hotel is being proposed by local developer Bruce Levinsky, Provident Development of Saratoga Springs and Presidian Hospitality of San Antonio, Texas.
The early sketch plans for the hotel include five stories of hotel rooms with a 5,200-square-foot ballroom and banquet facility on top, enclosed by floor to ceiling windows overlooking Broadway and Washington Street.
Steve Rowland, chairman of the Saratoga Springs Design Review Commission, said his board liked the conservatory-style glass-enclosed space atop the hotel.
“The glass on top is a nice approach, it lightens it up,” he said during a joint workshop meeting of the city’s Design Review Commission and the Saratoga Springs Planning Board in City Hall.
Levinsky owns the Rip Van Dam building, a former hotel built in the 1840s. Some years ago Levinsky demolished a rear portion of the hotel that had become deteriorated. This area is now a parking lot and would be the location of the new hotel that would have its main entrance on Washington Street but also be connected to the original Rip Van Dam building.
The two land use boards took no action on the conceptual plans but gave their initial comments and reactions to the plans.
“It’s a very exciting project,” Rowland said, but he has some concerns about a brick stairwell that runs up the southeast corner of the proposed hotel.
Clifford Van Wagner, Planning Board chairman, said he thought the Design Review Commission, which reviews projects in the city’s historic districts, might have objected to the glass enclosed sixth floor of the hotel but this was not the case.
Rowland said his board will be looking at traffic and pedestrian flow into and out of the Washington Street entrance to the proposed hotel. The project developers say that parking for the hotel will be off site and served by a valet system.
Van Wagner said the hotel would generate “extra traffic” at the already busy Broadway and Washington Street intersection.
Kate Maynard, the city’s principal planner, said the applicants will have to provide the city with a survey of the property with boundaries marked, as well as a landscape plan and other site plan details. She also suggested a second stairway to serve the roof-top ballroom for safety reasons.
Dror Baldinger, the project architect with the Houston,Texas-based Powers Brown Architecture, explained how the new building would fit in with existing structures and the urban landscape of downtown Saratoga Springs.
Baldinger said the “very preliminary” design is not “set in stone” and he welcomed the advice and opinions of the review boards.
Levinsky noted that the design had already been changed in recent days with the southwestern wing of the hotel picking up some of the cornice and design features seen on the facade of the renovated Rip Van Dam building.
The Rip Van Dam building currently has a popular restaurant, Maestro’s at the Van Dam, on the first floor and porch with business offices above. The upper floors of the original Van Dam building would be transformed into hospitality spaces for the new hotel that will connect to the historic building.
Levinsky also proposed a “streetscape” on the sidewalk along Broadway and Washington Avenue with Victorian-era fencing and small gazebos surrounding the building.
Van Wagner said the sidewalk structures should not impede motorists’ view of the busy intersection.