BETHLEHEM — A new fitness studio and healthy cafe may soon replace the former Price-Greenleaf property in Delmar.
John Romeo — the director of engineering at Guilderland-based engineering and land surveying firm, Insite Northeast — appeared at the town’s Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15 for an initial presentation with diagrams and a potential artistic rendering of the new project. Romeo also acted as a representative on behalf of James D. Featherstonhaugh, the project’s applicant and owner of Feathers Fitness, a physical fitness center on 180 Delaware Ave. — it is a four-minute drive from the proposed property.
The application had previously been first presented to the town’s Development Planning Committee on Aug. 15.
The new property in question is located on 14 Booth Road and had been a longtime family-owned gardening and landscaping business called Price-Greenleaf which provided locals options for indoor and outdoor flowers, trees, shrubs and gardening supplies. It was owned by the Plummer family from 1957 to December 2018.
Besides the existing brick building, all other structures on the property, including a greenhouse and some storage sheds would be removed for the new fitness studio and cafe, if the project is approved. According to town documents, the property takes up around 4,300 square feet and is in a Commercial Hamlet zoned area. The brick building will be retained to be renovated into a 2,800-square-foot fitness studio and 1,500-square foot healthy cafe.
“The building is of pretty nice structure and it’s not in horrible shape so it just seemed like a waste of money to tear it down,” said George Featherstonhaugh, James’ son, who works at Feathers Fitness too.
There will also be an outdoor patio for seasonal use, a bike rack, benches and 31 parking spaces, including for handicap.
The site plan has two options on how the parking spaces are oriented. In one design, 25 parking spaces will be located to the east of the studio/cafe while four spaces are just northeast of the building and an additional two spaces are to the far northeast. The latter six spaces directly face Booth Road. In the second design, 26 parking spaces will be to the east of the studio/cafe while five more are to the northeast which directly face Booth Road. There will be more green spaces that border a neighboring property in the first design than in the second one.
A take-out window for the cafe will be available too so that pedestrians and bicyclists can conveniently get their to-go orders. This can also cater to people using the nearby Albany County Rail Trail.
Romeo said the provided diagrams at the Planning Board as well as the fitness space’s and cafe’s logos are still subject to final revision though.
“I think everyone can benefit from being a little bit healthier and another healthy food and fitness place in the area,” said George. “There’s a demand for it. Just having the service offered at an affordable price and right next to the Rail Trail complements it.”
He added, “I’ve been doing personal training for a while now in Delmar and when that spot opened up, we’d been looking for a more kind of sustainable safe spot where we are not at the mercy of a landlord. We want to fully relocate there.”
The fitness studio will not be a standard gym like Vent Fitness but instead, it would have three spaces “that can be rented for yoga, dance class, high intensity training for Olympic athletes or for individualized training,” said Romeo. The studio will also include three bathrooms and lockers.
George, however, said it has yet to be decided exactly what the three fitness spaces within the studio would be used for although he said it would most likely be for personal training and rental space for group sessions.
It has also not been decided whether the three fitness spaces will be divided by curtains or physical walls.
The cafe was not the Featherstonhaughs’ initial idea though. George said a fellow Bethlehem resident named Nicole Rice had heard of his family wanting to open a new fitness studio there and she reached out to them about opening a healthy cafe beside it. “We teamed up and purchased the lot,” he said.
Rice said the healthy cafe would be called Green House but its logo and menu have yet to be finalized.
“We want to try to make plant-based food as accessible as possible like sandwiches, salads, soups and different types of fruity bowls,” she said. “We also want to do brunches on weekends with gluten-free pancakes and waffles. … We would definitely need maybe 10 employees from the start and I think we’ll grow rapidly if the response is big.”
Romeo said the cafe is looking to serve locally-sourced food and state beers, wines and ciders; it can also host local community events.
Rice added that she grew up in Bethlehem, is a vegetarian for 18 years now and healthy eating has always been a major part of her life. “I’ve always wanted to have my own small business in town and there’s been trends about healthy eating and I’ve noticed the lack of healthy options around lunchtime, brunch and weekends in town,” she said. “The cafe seems like a good fit. I also had my eye on the Price-Greenleaf location. When it was on sale and I found out George wanted to open the fitness space there, I reached out to him and it’s nice that we’re both health-minded individuals.”
Romeo said the overall project does not expect massive human traffic because it is a mixed-use property. “The operating hours are slightly different because of the flexible space in the studio,” he said. “People would show up typically for one to two hours at a time. People won’t all show up at one time as there’s only so much space available for studio sessions. Because the spaces are for specialized training, we anticipate only two to four people per room.”
Looking ahead, George envisions the property to open in April 2020 and he said his current client base are excited and supportive about the move too. Rice chimed in, “Bethlehem has always seemed to be a healthy town and when you see a lot of people use the Rail Trail all year round and access the YMCA, it seems there is a need for this and people are seeking this out. I think it’ll just be a great space for the community to come together and enjoy healthy fitness and eating on a different level.”
Towards the end of Romeo’s presentation, the Planning Board generally offered positive feedback but asked for a follow-up update soon with more information on projected human traffic, how the property would fit the surrounding communnity’s character and when the final parking option would be chosen. The Planning Board then voted unanimously to table the application.