According to the January 15 Daily Gazette, Saratoga Casino Hotel will be presenting plans to the Saratoga Springs City Council tonight (January 15) to build “affordable housing” at the corner of Jefferson and Crescent Avenue. The Casino is working with Liberty Affordable Housing of Rome, NY. They want to build a 192 rental unit complex on 30 wooded acres.
The Casino has indicated it is hoping to provide housing to its employees there. The requirements for the grants and tax breaks that would be needed do not allow them to restrict the applicants to their employees. It also remains unclear how many of their employees could afford to live in the units. Many of the Casino’s employees are very low paid and “affordable” is not the same as low income housing.
According to the Gazette, “The City Planning Board unanimously gave the project an unfavorable recommendation in September, but the developer is proceeding anyway.”
In order to build the project the city would need to amend its Comprehensive Plan which right now designates the area “rural residential.” The Gazette reported that the Planning Board’s decision was based on the fact that the change to the Comprehensive Plan would be permanent and it would be possible to build market rate-driven apartments there if this project did not go forward. This area is essentially part of the city’s greenbelt and there will be resistance to projects that breach its character.
Attorney Matthew Jones who represent the developers asserted that the proposed zoning change was written to restrict the tenants to people with work force incomes.
The Planning Board also cited the fact that the city has currently approved or is considering 550 more work force units “integrated within the fabric of the city” whereas the Liberty project would be more isolated.
SAVE – ( Saratogians Against Vegas-Style Expansion ) has a Facebook page. They recently posted the following:
We received this message last night and wanted to share it here with our supporters who are neighbors of the Racino:
To the dedicated members of SAVE,
We write to you as Saratoga residents of the Jefferson Street/Crescent Avenue neighborhood. Many of us worked with SAVE and the Saratoga community to fight the casino expansion proposal in 2014. Unfortunately, our neighborhood is once again fighting the aggressive tactics of The Saratoga Casino group .
As residents of the diverse working class neighborhood of the south side of Saratoga, we are proponents of affordable housing. We have respect for the multifaceted considerations involved in the development of a project of this magnitude and appreciate the affordable housing guidelines and suggestions put forth by The City of Saratoga Planning Board/City Council. We believe that proposals for large scale housing developments should adhere to the city’s zoning regulations.
The Saratoga Casino and Liberty Affordable Housing LLC have put forth a proposal that has no regard for the Council’s guidelines and is in direct conflict with the current residential zoning regulations. Liberty Affordable Housing LLC has a proposal to build two four-story apartment buildings on the corner of Jefferson Street and Crescent Avenue. According to the proposal, this housing would be built exclusively for employees that work at the casino. The four-story buildings are intended to house 190+ units and 276 parking spaces. As immediate neighbors of the Saratoga Casino, the scale and unsuitable location of this proposed housing development concerns us.
The zoning for our neighborhood is residential, which would make building a property of this magnitude illegal. However, Liberty Affordable Housing LLC (in partnership with the Saratoga Casino) is petitioning the city to change the neighborhood’s residential zoning to EQ zoning ( “Equine and Related Facilities”).This would allow the four story buildings to be built. The zoning amendment proposal was brought to the Planning Board/City Council of Saratoga Springs, where all 7 board members were in agreement of an “unfavorable advisory opinion”. A public hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday 1/15/19, 6pm at City Hall (temporary location 15 Vanderbilt Avenue). We are of the opinion that most individuals in the residential areas surrounding the Saratoga Casino are unaware of the housing development proposal or the public hearing.
We have attached our neighborhood response which will be presented at the public hearing on 1/15/18. We would welcome any advice, publication or community support SAVE might be willing to offer if you find this issue to be in line with SAVE’s goals and perspective.
Thank you for your time, we look forward toward your response,
Saratoga Clubhouse Estates Homeowners Association