continued “We are willing to develop a specific plan in response (to conditions of the planning board) for the Zoning Board of Appeals,” Sweeney said.
Board members were mostly concerned how the expansion would impact parking, along with efforts to improve traffic flow in the two affected parking lots. The addition would be in front of the entrance in between Dick’s and the doors leading to the escalator up to the food court.
Sweeney said a rendering of the proposed addition was not completed yet, but the exterior of the mall would be renovated to a “more appealing” design through a “pop-out” style entrance.
The overall size of the mall is 1.6 million square feet, with recent changes reducing the amount of leased space through the reuse of two department store locations. The new businesses are occupying less space than the former uses, which results in the expansion adding just over 2,000 square feet of space to lease.
Sweeney said the two parking lots would have spaces laid out differently to better suit the mall’s design.
“I think that it is a pretty universal opinion that it is both inefficient and doesn’t work very well to have the parking spaces perpendicular to the shopping center,” Sweeney said.
Some of the board’s conditions for approval included identifying the number of parking spaces reduced or added in the affected lots, providing appropriate curbing within parking lots to better direct traffic and increase landscaping, identifying the amount and type of material planned for landscaping, and eliminating the proposed new parking lot access.
The approval also hinged on developers consulting with Capital District Transportation Authority on what, if any, impacts the expansion would have on bus terminal access. The bus stop is currently located in front of the expansion.
Sweeney said developers have discussed the expansion with CDTA and said it would not affect access to the bus stop.
“There always is ongoing discussions with CDTA and [these] dimensions, I don’t think, accommodates fewer buses,” he said. “The bus area has to be able to accommodate the same number of buses.”
There will be a public hearing on the proposal at an upcoming Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, with next scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 18. An agenda for the meeting was not available before going to press.