Thursday, September 25, 2008

Without parking lot application, Fort Orange Club plan approved

Zoning board OKs part of Albany club's expansion

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ALBANY - With the Fort Orange Club withdrawing its plan to demolish two buildings for a parking lot, the Zoning Board of Appeals tonight approved the rest of its proposal to expand the club's health facilities.

The club had originally sought permission to build a parking lot where connected buildings at 118-120 Washington Ave. now stand, and to place a stone fence there instead. That request prompted opposition from neighborhood groups and nine Common Council members.

The club altered its application to remove the fence and parking lot, and the board swiftly approved the remainder of the plan.

Michael Yevoli, the city's commissioner of planning and development, said Mayor Jerry Jennings worked with club leaders to convince them not to remove the buildings, located a few doors away from the Alfred E. Smith Building and a block from the Capitol.

"The mayor worked very, very hard to bring the club around to the importance of that urban context, but also the importance of the club to the city," he said.

The city will continue to work with the club leaders to find alternate parking, Yevoli added.
The club had planned to spend $4.75 million plan to increase its parking from 51 to 73 spaces and add squash courts and a weight room to an expanded athletic wing.

Plans for the health club addition must still get approval from the city's Planning Board. The project will be on the agenda of that board's Oct. 9 meeting.

Club representatives did not attend the meeting, and board president Daniel Hogarty could not be reached for comment afterward.

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