Monday, August 27, 2007

Will a Renovated Sharon Springs be Affordable?

Picture it now: The Imperial Baths and Spas and the Adler Hotel (where a teen-aged Ed Koch bussed tables during the Summer), returned to their former glory, bustling with tourists, lit up with life once again. Picture Main Street’s shops and restaurants overflowing with people. Streets so crowded with pedestrians you can barely squeeze through them.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Sharon Springs was the preferred resort locale for a who’s who of New York’s elite, cutely referred to as the “knickerbocracy”. Later, many Jews came to Sharon Springs to bath in the healing springs after the Holocaust. But into the 1950s and 1960s, interest in Sharon Springs began to wane heavily, and soon the only patrons of the massive, stately hotels and spas were the termites.

But a plan recently proposed by a group of New York City-based Korean investors with experience in the tourism industry hopes to change all that. What started out as a plan to invest $10 million dollars for renovations of two hotels has expanded into a $30 million dollar planned investment that would renovate most of the dilapidated resort facilities in the village. If these plans are carried out, which is a huge “if”, it could spell drastic change for this tiny rural village.

By and large, that change would be positive, a virtual rebirth. However, current residents see more than just a local renaissance in the making. They see cause for concern. High among these concerns are the potential for gentrification and rapid unmanaged growth. If there is a resurgence of interest in the Sharon Springs area, will it mean development along the scenic Route 20 corridor? If there is an influx of new residents, what will happen to local housing prices? Will the people living in Sharon Springs presently be able to afford to live in a renovated Sharon Springs? Can Sharon Springs be revitalized without dislocating its most vulnerable residents?

These are questions that deserve answers. A sustainable community that meets the needs of all of its citizens should be the goal that leaders aspire to. Any development or “progress” that fails to recognize this, is no progress at all. Revitalization should not come at the expense of displacing poor people.

23 comments:

robinia said...

Interesting post. When my brother's family lived in the Sharon Springs area, I always thought it was such a shame that it was such an abandoned-seeming place.... However, I had assumed that modern building codes would make the rennovation of the large, wood-framed buildings completely impractical. Commercial buildings (like, hotels) can no longer be constructed of wood framiing, for fire safety reasons. Any info on how the developers are dealing with that?

Sean Thomas said...

Thanks for your post. There's no doubt that Sharon Spring's building codes will have to be updated both to allow for renovation of the wood-frame hotels and to protect the safety of future inhabitants. I'm not sure what the developer's plans call for exactly (by way of fire protection). Obviously, the requirements are stringent, but not cost-prohibitive in all cases. For further information, one can contact officals in the Village of Sharon Springs for information on the site plans and building plans laid out by Sharon Springs, Inc. (the developers). To my knowledge, there has not been a whole lot of official paperwork filed. However, there have been informational meetings where the developers have laid out in detail what their plans are.

Scott W. Beach said...

After a summer of putting it off I finally made a venture out to Sharon Springs (from the Herkimer area). I hadn't been there in about 15 years. The last time I saw the American Hotel it wasn't something Rachel Ray would have looked twice at. Not anymore. It was amazing to see what I recalled as a run-down hotel now restored to the extent that it was featured on the Food Network. I recall years ago looking at the American thinking how amazing it would be to see it restored to it's former glory but with a sense of sadness because the idea seemed so unrealistic. Today I got the same sense of sadness looking at the Adler. The building still has a magnificence to it. It stands weathered but proud, as though it's not ready to throw in the towel just yet. If only I had a spare few million to put into renovations. At any rate I returned home to hop on the net and find out that although I can't singlehandedly save the place, apparently some overseas investors might. It doesn't sound overly concrete, but at least there is some hope. I would hate to see what was obviously an incredible place in it's heyday simply deteriorate beyond repair. My hats off to the gentlemen who put obviously a lot of time, money and hard work into the American as well as the owners of The Roseboro and several other places that have recovered their former glory. I sincerely hope that this proposed $30+ million development plan comes to fruition, and if not then other people with a dream (and finance options) will follow the lead of those that have begun to revitalize a place that in my estimation is well worth saving.
To those of you that have already taken up the task, keep up the good work.
-Scott Beach

Anonymous said...

Take a look at this website: www.dearchny.com. Click around! Oh, and afterwards, head over, if you can, to Main Street, Sharon Springs, and check out the architectural renderings "permitted" to be displayed in the windows of the old Klinkhart Hardware store. (I plan no further input; trust you will make your own conclusions.)

Anonymous said...

Ha! So much for best laid plans! please go to: www.dearchny.com/home4.swf. ASAP?!? :) and good luck.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh..."Cherchez la femme"...the translation of that is "find the real estate broker in Sharon Springs". Non? Well, let me stick to plain English guessing games. I mean the same individual who sits on the Joint Town-Village Task Force which is supposed to, what, protect the best interests of the residents of the previously described locality. She, who brokered the sale of 80+ open acres to Sharon Springs, Inc. while serving on the Task Force this year. Yep, from community impressions to conflicts of interest (not that the latter will appear on any private town-village surveys). From "gentrification" to "the fix is in"...ya think?

Anonymous said...

in spa world new york...just IMPUT into search engine...probly safest to CLICK INTO from search engine. One thing I don't get...if the web address contains the letters "eng", then why would a request be made re if I want to install a language pack?!? Quelle tech dummie me! Anyway, "Cancel" moves you on from there. Photos do show a sort of shiny 5***** glam! As for the future...where? Yeah!!! Certainly, lotsa fun to share!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this one is also worth a look...www.kingsaunausa.com...for a similar (uh, "sister"?) Disney-slick spa enterprise located in Bergen County, New Jersey. Great reprint of a NYTimes article "Hot for the Holidays: The Lure of a Korean Spa". Can't help but wonder...is the manager, Young B. Cho, related to Q Cho, one one the principal developers/investors in the SS Resort? But, this has proven to be my favorite paragraph: "Finally, the ultimate treatment after a day of sweating out impurities and soaking to soften the skin is a Korean body scrub ($65), a thorough exfoliation of every body part. Middle-aged Korean women called ajuma, wearing black bras and panties (just as they do in Korea), wield Brillo-like scrub pads over the naked, who are as vulnerable as a chicken filet on a deli slab. Skin comes off in rolled sheets, leaving a softer, lighter complexion over the whole body. It is not for the sensitive." Middle-aged ladies, eh? Couldn't help but picture some of our solid Sloughter matrons, decked out in Mournful Skivvies, performing this job. :P Sorry, guess I'm just too easily amused.

Anonymous said...

OHMYSWEETLORD. Checked out the T-J today. The project has yet to move from "stealth mode" to "Shock and Awe" and yet the usual suspects (i.e. real estate interests) are already cashing in. How gross. What I don't get is how someone could get GRANT money, of all things, to construct condominiums in a structure where the zoning doesn't currently permit such use. Blatently disgusting. (Sigh). I truly get the sense of a lost cause...but will keep watching, anyway. (When the collaborators are no longer needed by their overlords, they will be unceremoniously tossed out on their greedy butts.) Some will move on to other jobs(look at what a great economic developer I AM!); some will cash in and move on to what, the Cape? East Hampton? a penthouse in the West Village? Saratoga? Whatever. The ones who will have to live with the outcome: not just the poor and working-class in the immediate community, but also in any community about 20 miles from the √ępicenter of it all. So sad...and scary...take care.

Anonymous said...

1/2 a mill giftie in taxpayer money to a pair of speculators to develop luxury condos...this must be what all those Republicans mean when they speak of "free enterprise". Sorry, I still just can't believe it and I'm still very pissed. Wonder if their buddies are also going to procure grant money for these two to develop their luxury golf course?!? :(

Anonymous said...

www.dailygazette.com/news/2008/jan/16/0116_restore1...or, Google "Michael Lauder Sharon Springs". Most interesting to me because the enabler of this travesty is Jodie Z. who "provided technical assistance" on the grant application for the Cottage which was "submitted" on Sept. 28 (I assume 2007) M.L. is The Bouvier freak's business partner...but, more important to the narrative, is Jodie Z.(Google, memory? please don't let me down! :))Thank you for well, listening. P.S. "Bouvier" is actually a purebred dog called a Bouvier de Flandres (Flandres=Flanders=Belgian)J√°dore le Francais! (Ooh La LAR___!) Guess it's time to stop now. Bon Soir!

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm back to take up more space on yer blog. www.fmsworkforcesolutions.org A Board Meeting that took place back on May 2nd, 2007, minutes recorded under heading III. Old Business. "Jodie Zakrevski (sic) gave a short recap of his meeting in Sharon Springs regarding the proposal by several Korean investors to build a multi-million spa resort. Jodie stated that they changed their plan somewhat (yeah, right...me). Instead of proposing to start construction of two state-of-the-art hotels, they presented a new plan to the community. In this new plan, they proposed to first renovate the Adler Hotel and the Imperial Bath House. They went to traditional historic preservation mode and the community loved it." Gee, that Jodie is too slick! He exploited the "historic preservation" hook to get grant money outta Albany for a private development of luxury condos. But wait, there's more...guess the question of allowing high-density luxury residential development in SS village has been laid to rest. The door has been cracked open, and the "investors" can come charging in. Why, fait accompli, "Too Slick"! The fix is certainly in long and deep, eh? As for the restoration of 1. the Adler...the investors only stated that the facade would remain unchanged. I don't know how to interpret this, but I feel some sort of "bait and switch" is coming. 2. the main Imperial Bath House is inadequate in size for the volume operation the investors intend to pursue, but their intention was to let it stay anyway, non? Interesting sidebar: the Sharon Public Opinin Survey specifically asked respondants whether or not to allow development on "steep slopes". (no surprise, eh, mon ami?)

Anonymous said...

Oopsie...Opinion, not Opinin.

Anonymous said...

Well, back to that Public Opinion Survey...there was a subject that really took my breath away. Hey, le boche, don't even attempt it. There are those of us who don't know it all, but who can figure out enuff. You have been put on notice. Au Revoir.

Anonymous said...

as of yesterday, May 30th, 2008, both the Adler Hotel and the Imperial Baths appear to be totally abandoned.

Anonymous said...

:)

Scott W. Beach said...

I made a return trip to Sharon Springs a couple of weeks ago. I was deeply saddened to find the Adler abandoned with no indications of any renovations having ever been started. A break-in was evident on the southwest side of the building, and I could see spraypainting on the interior. I do not know the current state of affairs with regard to the Korean investors but wanted to pass this info. along for those that may be following the status of the much hoped for renovations.

Anonymous said...

Anything new... will it survive another winter?

Glimmerglass said...

With the obvious changes in the national economy I cannot imagine the Adler restoration or the Spa baths recovery will ever take place with the current owners.

A close business affiliate of that group attempted to buy out Howe Caverns but lost it in a bidding war last year. The plan to add that attraction along with the resort would've made sense. Without it then you begin to wonder what all the guests to the Adler would do as no guests live in just their room and the spa.

There is no adjacent golf course, for example, and unlike other resorts no extensive walking trails or even skiing chances, et al. I love visiting Sharon Springs but then again I just like to mellow out at the small Clausen Farms B&B.

At least the prior owner, while not investing money into either property, did keep the doors open which itself is crucial to the health of any building. The prolonged lack of water use in the pipes et al does cause problems.

Hotel occupancy is down across the board and expected to slump even more in 2009. No stimulus package will materialize to pump the needed millions into this venture when established hotels are suffering.

I won't profess to have direct insider info, but from those privy to board meetings say this investment group in 2008 only further lost credibility with their lack of actions, lack of substantive plans, and ever expanding grandiose plans that failed to make sense.

I've always wondered at what point would there be a mysterious fire and up goes the Adler. None of the properties are being protected, let alone even the most basic efforts in preservation. The board has told the owners they must keep the properties up minimum standards.

Further they have been told in no uncertain terms that the facade of the Adler must be retained. Effectively the building could be razed but the facade would have to be replicated on the new structure. No matter how much they may want it a glass tower structure won't happen.

Since they paid under $800k for all the holdings and haven't spent anything else on the properties save for property taxes they aren't deeply in debt - yet. So cutting bait so to speak is still possible.

One can only hope a sympathetic (and realistic) group can purchase the Adler and Spa back (the Columbia and other hotel aren't as much of an issue) and attempt to restore them.

A photographer I know did visit the Adler this summer and likewise remarked the interior has been hit with graffiti so it’s only a matter of time before more vandalism will occur.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother was a partner in the Adler Hotel in the early 50's. I have childhood memories of the sulfur odor and pancakes that were in a pyramid shape - each one smaller than the one below. I was last there about 20 years ago. It was in pretty sad shape then - I can't imagine it getting any worse.

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