*** NYS URBAN COUNCIL QUESTION ***
Question from Christina J. Selvek, Director, Seneca Falls Heritage Area
“The Gould Hotel is a Seneca Falls landmark due to its prominent location in the village and its association with community life and Goulds Pumps. The hotel is the largest and tallest building in the National Register and local historic district located along Routes 5 & 20. The current building was constructed in 1895 and consists of a four story brick block construction of a stepped rectangular plan with Colonial Revival detailing. Unfortunately, the hotel and restaurant closed this past summer. The owner of the Gould plans on filing for bankruptcy and the mortgage company Pramco plans on filing for foreclosure any day. I am working very closely with the seller’s broker to market the site and building, but we have been unable to find any other interested parties in purchasing and restoring this wonderful building. The Gould Hotel has often been called the cornerstone of the Seneca Falls community. I am currently turning away potential revenue as tourists look for lodging accommodations elsewhere in Seneca County.”
Have other upstate communities dealt with similar issues concerning historic hotels? How were they able to attract potential developers to their communities?
City of Oneida
Our Hotel Oneida has sat vacant for years. I don’t know the answer. Wish I did.
St. Lawrence County Planning Office
The Village of Potsdam had two historic buildings burn in the center of the downtown and have utilized an interesting blend of financing to restore the buildings to commercial and residential use, including maintaining the historic facades. In aggregate, a total of $ 3.6 million is being spent on reconstruction but the total private debt load will be only $ 325,000. Almost 60% of the renovation is being done with tax credit financing. The bulk of the rest is CDBG funding and deferrred developers fees.
The residential use is not hotel but rather conversion of the second and third floors to affordable housing. Commercial retail space is available at the street level in all the buildings fronts (a total of 4). While this may not be what you were looking for, it does allow you to preserve the building, meet community affordable housing needs and provide for retail uses on the first floor, almost always welcome in a downtown location. A good point of contact on this project is Fred Hanss, Director of Planning and Community Development for the Village of Potsdam at 315-265-1670. The preferred developer for both buildings is the St. Lawrence County Housing Council, Inc.
Neighbors of Watertown has also converted a several historic buildings into affordable housing in the City of Watertown also utilizing syndicated tax credit packages. Gary Beasley is the Executive Director and he also helped to package the tax credit package utilized in Potsdam. He can be reached at 315-782-8497. Their website link showing their residential historic restoration projects is www.neighborsofwatertown.com. I encourage you to look at THE BRIGHTON under their residential development link.
I know just a little more about the Potsdam projects. I do have a powepoint presentation I utilized on a panel at a NeighborWorks America symposium in Boston that, in part describes this project that I can also share.
I am not aware of anyone that has converted old hotels into "new" old hotels successfully in smaller communities.
NYS Tug Hill Commission
I haven't dealt with this issue, but have they spoken with their county IDA? Depending on how much restoration work is needed, a developer might quality for historic preservation tax credits. Perhaps advertise the site on Empire State Development's "Site Finder" website?