Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fort Orange coverage on Ch. 13/WNYT

Expansion of the Fort Orange Club Moves Forward

Posted at: 09/24/2008 11:55:27 PM
By: Kumi Tucker

Albany's Board of Zoning Appeals approved the Fort Orange Club's plan to expand. The club's request to build a parking lot has been withdrawn.

It appears Mayor Jerry Jennings and City Hall have been busy, working out a solution.
The Zoning Board voted to approve the Fort Orange Club's request to build an addition to expand the health and exercise facilities at the exclusive social club.

The club withdrew its bid to make a parking lot in place of two buildings it owns on Washington Avenue, in a move that surprised and pleased preservationists.

"The buildings still are a bit in danger, I would say, but we're hoping for the best and we're glad that they did amend it so they can go forward with their proposal," said Susan Holland, Executive Director of Historic Albany Foundation.

Fort Orange Club attorney Robert Sweeney said they are pleased with the vote to approve the expansion.

"It was important to get moving forward with the health facility, construction seasons and so forth, and if they don't start building now, then it probably would have been put off a year," Sweeney said.

It appears that City Hall was working behind the scenes.

"It took a number of months and a lot of work through the Mayor's office and through our office to work with the club and the neighborhood to come up with a decision at the board level that addresses the club's need to expand, it's a very important institution in the City of Albany, but also to preserve that urban context that's there with the buildings in place," said Michael Yevoli, Commissioner of Development and Planning.

"It was obvious that this was not a solution to their parking problem, so we had to balance what was good for the community and what was good for the club."

Commissioner Yevoli says the city will be working with the Fort Orange Club not only to find appropriate uses for those buildings, but also to solve the club's parking problem.

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