New Life For The Pink Palace On Union Avenue?

Sonny Bonnacio organized a neighborhood informational meeting to present a proposal to rehab the “Pink Palace” on Union Avenue.


Sonny Bonnacio is on the left and Mike Ingersoll of the LA Group is talking on the right.  The gentleman in the middle is Sonny Bonnacio’s colleague.

Pink Palace

This is the old Skidmore dorm, Moore Hall. Back in 2006, North Star Development bought the property with plans to tear the palace down and replace it with several large buildings that would incorporate upscale condos. Unfortunately, 2008 sunk the project.

As explained by the principal of North Star, he and Bonnacio have a tentative agreement to develop the property. It was apparent that for purposes of expediting and simplifying the approval process they want to make minimal changes to the property.

Apparently the building was built like a bunker which meant that even after sitting idly a decade it is structurally sound. Concurrently, it would be hugely expensive to take the building down. Complicating things is the fact that the ceilings are only seven feet six inches high and while the corridors are unusually wide, the rooms are quite narrow. So the plan is to build 54 micro, one bedroom apartments. The apartments will be 550 to 700 square feet and rent for $1,200 to $1,400 dollars.

The developers think there is a market for these apartments to serve young executives working downtown at the three advertising firms and other local businesses.

The area is already zoned for apartments. Their problem is that the zoning law requires them to have 1.5 parking spaces for each apartment and the parking lot behind the building that empties on White Street has only about 50 spaces. Therefore, In order to go forward with this project they will have to get a zoning variance to address the parking.

There was a very good turnout of homeowners from the neighborhood. While the people were sympathetic to the project, there was clearly concern about the lack of parking and about the impact that all the new tenants would have on traffic on White Street and Regent Street.

Sonny Bonnacio promised to have another meeting once their traffic consultants came up with proposals.

14 thoughts on “New Life For The Pink Palace On Union Avenue?”

  1. This is NOT ‘affordable’ housing. Not even close. $1400 – for a MICRO apartment?? The average worker in this city would have to work two full time jobs to afford what amounts to living in a closet – and that’s still IF they can afford it?

    People – this has gone on too long now. Enough is enough!! SPEAK OUT!!! Let them know NO MORE UNAFFORDABLE HOUSING!!! Email and speak with your city council members. Attend the zoning and city council meetings and speak out against this project! Send letters to news outlets! If we REAL Saratogians are going to stop this madness within our city, we need to start NOW! These developers are also behind the ‘Saratoga PAC – a ‘super PAC’ which will and can throw unlimited funds into the political arena to get whatever they desire.

    Only YOU can stop them.

    It’s OUR city, not theirs. Let’s make sure they know that, and take it back from them.

    Dave Morris
    Saratogians for Sustainable Housing
    Saratoga County Residents Against PACs (SCRAP)


    1. Dave, it’s been an empty eyesore for almost a decade. As a former neighbor of that graffiti-laden building, I appreciate Bonacio doing anything with it.


    2. Dave, it’s been an empty eyesore for almost a decade, attracting homeless, graffiti, rodents etc. As a former neighbor, I appreciate what Bonacio is doing and think you are way off.


      1. Dan – step on this side of the fence if you don’t mind. The CITY could have made Higgin’s clean up and maintain that property. We are also getting to the point that even the middle class can’t afford it here. These ‘micro apartments’ that Bonacio is proposing are starting at $1200 a month. To afford that, one needs to make roughly 50k a year. The average worker downtown makes app. 20-25k. They would need to work TWO fulltime jobs to afford it – and in this case can’t even have a roommate because they are basically renting a closet with a standup shower stall and kitchenette thrown in. There are MUCH better uses for that property that would have REALLY served the communities needs much better.

        Then there is a problem with parking. They need DOUBLE the parking they have now. Where does that go?


    3. Dave, the parking issue is a legitimate concern that we agree on. Please understand I am not questioning your sentiments. I believe they are well intentioned and I don’t disagree with you – at least in the general sense. The problem here is that opposing this project on the basis of it not being affordable housing is ignoring reality. This building has stood empty for almost a decade. It has been loaded with graffiti, weeds, rodents etc. and you say the city COULD have done something about it but they didn’t. Well you’re right, they didn’t, despite my efforts on my blog as well as a letter to the city I wrote about 4 years ago that I can share with you if you wish to provide your email. But even if they held the owner responsible, then we’d still have a graffiti-free building with a well manicured lawn that was still empty and rusting for perhaps another 10 years. It is such an eyesore. Sometimes the art of the doable is the most valuable asset to have, and I believe that is the case here. No one in 10 years had the wherewithal to make anything happen, much less something involving affordable housing. You can lament the lack of affordable housing, but to extend that to opposing this project seems foolhardy to me.


      1. From what I was told the main reason for that is because the owner did not want to do anything there. It was cost prohibitive because of asbestos issues and was better set up for offices that apartments (central bathrooms). Taking down a building like that would also cost more to do than renovating it.

        But my main point here is that in the past 40 years, these developers haven’t gone near truly affordable housing. The young and the workforce is starting to leave in droves because they just can’t afford to live here anymore. That is not sustainable. Adding to that problem with another project like Bonacio is proposing just makes a bad situation worse. We need to start looking at the bigger picture here rather than being shortsighted. Growth is a good thing, but it has to be done right too. These developers need to understand that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe it’s Sonny Bonacio on the left and Mike Ingersoll of the LA Group talking on the right.

    Note that both Sonny Bonacio ($5,050) and CM Ingersoll of the LA Group ($200) are contributors to the Saratoga PAC.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Everyone loves shopping and dining in our downtown locations. It’s important to remember that all of the people who work in these wonderful places need to be able to afford to live here so they can continue to work here. While I appreciate the potential improvement to the building, it is not affordable housing. How about fewer units, converted to 2-bedroom apartments that could be shared.
    We have a good thing going here in Saratoga Springs and we are teetering on screwing it up with too much growth.
    I am a native Saratogian and it would be a shame to have our children priced out of the city they adore.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t understand why these apartments couldn’t be $600-$900 for working class peeps and students. That is the price range that is needed in Saratoga. Who would pay $1400 a month for ‘micro’ apartment? It’s Saratoga, not Williamsburg Brooklyn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nancy – because there isn’t enough of a profit margin for him to even consider what people REALLY need in this city. If there was, the developers would be all over it.


  5. I think all of you are living in la la land. The building has been empty since 2006, and Bonacio comes in and finally stops the deterioration, weeds, graffiti, rodents etc. and you’re all complaining. What other cities would do to have our “problems”.


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