City center plan gets redo

Those who recoiled in disgust or gasped in reverence at a modern design for the Saratoga Springs City Center expansion have voiced their opinions, and designers have run with that advice.

The resulting exterior redesign was unanimously approved by the city's Design Review Commission at its Wednesday, May 6, meeting. It will now proceed to the City Council for consideration at the May 19 meeting.

The DRC was very accommodating in working with the City Center Authority, helping guide the process to be timely and positive, said Authority President Mark Baker.

The new design eliminates chunks of limestone and substitutes brick columns. It still has panels of glass that will allow passers-by to see inside the expansion, a feature designers say promotes a sense of excitement and helps set the building apart from its neighbor, the Hilton hotel.

"The hotel that it sits next to is not an architectural wonder, so their goal was to establish a new identity, separate themselves from this big pile of bricks next door and be representative of the type of building that it is," said DRC Chairman Patrick Kane.

The expansion will still be 22,000 square feet, providing much-needed space for events and drawing more visitors to the city and its downtown area.

The changes will likely increase the cost of the project by about $500,000, said Baker, but an extremely competitive environment in the construction business may still result in bids that are within the $16 million budget.

"We're hoping we can address these changes within our budgetary constraints," said Baker.

If bids don't come back within budget, the project will go back to the City Council.

The review process has also sent the construction timeline back. The authority had initially hoped to be breaking ground in late May, but even assuming a quick approval from the City Council, bids probably won't come back until July.

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