Developers released draft architectural drawings and site plans today for a mixed residential and commercial development on the former Chalmers site on the City of Amsterdam’s south side. As part of the project, Luigi Lanzi, whose family owns and operates Lanzi’s on the Lake in Mayfield, NY and two other restaurants, announced his company’s plan to open up a 150-170 seat restaurant and 300 person capacity banquet hall on the site.
At a media briefing this morning, Lanzi, along with representatives of KCG Development, and their partner DEW Ventures, discussed plans for the site with Mayor Michael Villa, County Executive Matthew Ossenfort and MCBDC CEO Ken Rose.
Lanzi, who plans on leasing the new space, said opening a restaurant on the south side of Amsterdam has special meaning for him, as it is where his family first got its start in the restaurant business.
“I’m very excited to be back here,” said Lanzi, “My grandfather started there one block away in 1919. So it’s almost 100 years that we’ve been in business. We’re on our fourth generation.”
He added, “I’m really happy they asked us to come into this project. I think it’s going to be wonderful. It’s going to be good looking. I think it’s a need that Amsterdam has. We’re happy to be a part of it. I’m excited about it.”
Lanzi said that the banquet hall will have a total capacity of 300 people, but he will have the ability to divide the space into smaller partitions. The restaurant will feature inside and outside dining areas.
“It was really a win-win for us,” said Villa. “His family does a wonderful job and everybody in the area is aware of who he is.”
“[Lanzi] adds a level of authenticity and credibility and really helps foster that community support,” said Ossenfort. “Because this project is one that fits the community, and is something that I really think everyone will get behind.”
Lanzi said he was encouraged to see the city and county working together on the project.
Ossenfort said, “This is – I think – what people expect out of their city and their county, that we work together to get projects like this done.”
Bill Teator of DEW Ventures said that the addition of Lanzi’s helps create the type of living space that both young professionals and retiring baby boomers are looking for.
“We really see this dynamic mix of uses as critical to downtowns that are on a great upswing,” said Teator. “People want this lifestyle. They want these other amenities associated with it. People like to live in a downtown walkable environment, have a bar and restaurant, have pedestrian bridge access, bike trails.”
Stacy Kaplowitz of KCG Development said she is confident the project will be one where a “sense of place” will grow and flourish for residents over time.
“We are long-term owners,” said Kaplowitz. “We don’t develop to sell. We stay in for a minimum of 30 years. When we look at an investment, we look at a community that we want to spend a lot of time in and get to know. We take that very seriously, the partnership and the long term relationship.”
Both Teator and Kaplowitz agreed the market research completed for the project supports a profitable business plan, with single bedroom units going for $650 per month, and two-bedroom units for $1100 per month.
Kaplowitz said that she sees a tentative closing date on the property by the end of the year, and hopes to break ground on the project either by the end of the year or by spring of 2019. She estimated construction time for the entire $30 million*, 130 unit, 15,000 square foot project will take approximately 14 months.
She said that KCG is currently seeking to secure low income housing tax credits, which are tax incentives for developers to build affordable housing.
Teator explained that obtaining the tax credits is an important factor in attracting equity investors for the project, helping to gain enough funding such that the rental prices can be kept at a level where residents still have disposable income to spend at the surrounding businesses.
“We’re going to leverage those credits to raise that equity so that we can subscribe renters who can afford a one bedroom at $650 and a two bedroom at $1100,” said Teator.
Steven Carmina, president of the architectural firm Carmina, Wood, Morris, presented the site plan at this evening’s planning commission meeting. Plans call for a a five-story residential building with parking on the ground floor, as well as a one-story building for the banquet hall. The commission voted to refer the project to the Montgomery County Planning Board. If approved by the county board, the project will be subject to a final vote by the city commission.
The developers currently plan to use Massachusetts-based Trinity Building and Construction Management Corp, whose principals include Amsterdam natives Paul Mancini and Jason Perillo.
Looking ahead, Villa said he sees the project as a “fantastic building block” for another try at the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant, a $10 million award which the county has applied for on behalf of the city in each of the past two years.
*A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the total cost of the project