Potsdam would give 2- or 3-story hotel proposed for Market Street high priority if presented with plans, planner says
Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 8:28 am

By CRAIG FREILICH

POTSDAM – The director of the village’s Planning and Development Office says a hotel development in the village would be given high priority and village officials would provide whatever assistance they could to someone with a serious plan.

Potsdam builder Jim Sheehan has confirmed he has an agreement with Corning hotel developer Andy Patel for the purchase of Scoopuccino’s, at 167 Market St., and Ton’s Sports Bar, to the rear at 169 Market St., for construction of a 95-room Hampton Inn. The lots total about 3½ acres.

“Whether it would be two stories or three stories is not decided,” Patel said. The land will provide plenty of room or the development, he said.

That notion has not been tested by village officials yet.

Patel said he has not approached the village Planning and Development Office yet about his plans, but would like to start construction, which would take nine to 12 months, next spring or early summer. It would cost $6 million to $7 million, he said.

If the plan for the Hampton Inn goes ahead, with the land purchases made and the required approvals obtained, Potsdam Planning and Development Director Fred Hanss says it will be the realization of a long-held desire by village government and business in Potsdam for a major chain hotel.

“The village has been interested in having a hotel built in our territory for years, at least 15 years, maybe longer,” Hanss said.

“The development of a hotel has figured very highly in village economic development plans for years. It’s a major goal.”

The extra room capacity would be welcome, particularly when significant events are held here, such as hockey tournaments and college graduations and alumni weekends.

“I’m very interested to see what Mr. Patel has in mind,” Hanss, said.

Even if Patel and Scott do not come to terms on the Parkway Ford lot, there could still be enough land to put the hotel on Market Street.

The Scoopuccino’s and Ton’s lots amount to about 3½ acres, a size comparable to the lots near Mama Lucia and Sandstone Drive on which a similar hotel project was proposed in 2007.

Those lots, owned by Paul Blevins and Lloyd Vienneau, stretch from next to Mama Lucia to 75 Market St., where a two-story building with commercial first floor space and second floor apartments is located. They total approximately 3.2 acres, according to St. Lawrence County records.

“We have worked with a number of hotel developers over the years,” Hanss said, although none of those meetings has resulted in a hotel.

Patel said he has not had any meetings on this project with village officials. Hanss confirmed this.

“I would be absolutely thrilled if a new hotel came to Potsdam,” Hanss said.

He notes that the village has made getting a hotel here a priority in two recent planning documents, the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan adopted in June and in the latest edition of the village’s Comprehensive Plan, a hearing for which will be held Wednesday in the Civic Center board room at 7 p.m.

“We had done a market study that found potential demand for 80 to 120 hotel rooms,” Hanss said, “so a project like this would meet a huge revitalization goal for the community.”

Patel said his plan for the $6 million to $7 million hotel project has the approval of Hampton Inns and would use their latest designs for small hotels.

Patel has discussed ideas for hotels over the years with planners in the region and he has made many prospecting trips to the North Country to gauge the need for hotels and availability of property. He presented a Hampton Inn proposal in Canton just last July, on property to the east of the University Plaza on U.S. 11, but said that project would not go forward if the Potsdam development proceeds.

Patel has been in the hotel business for 25 years and runs Visions Hotels, based in Corning, with hotels in Watertown and Central and Western New York.

Patel said he would like to begin construction of the Potsdam hotel in the spring, and open in the spring of 2014.