MANCHESTER VILLAGE -- An application for a permit to construct an 85 room hotel on the site presently occupied by the now-shuttered Village Country Inn on Main Street was approved by the village's Development Review Board Monday night.

Following an hour-long recess for a deliberative discussion session behind closed doors, the board announced that it was approving the proposal. It has been revised from its original design to address concerns raised by board members over the course of several meetings stretching back more than a month.

Two major changes that helped the village officials approve the application were a shortening of the main hotel building's overall length and the reduction of the number of separate standalone cottages planned from five to three, said Thomas Deck, who presided over the meeting as acting chairman.

Clark French, behind the table, reviews changes to a proposal .to build a new hotel on the site occupied by the former Village Country Inn during Monday
Clark French, behind the table, reviews changes to a proposal .to build a new hotel on the site occupied by the former Village Country Inn during Monday night's Village Development Review Board (Andrew McKeever photo)

"I think that really improved the aesthetics for me," Deck said. "Those two (changes) enhanced the plan and kept it in keeping with the Village."

Under the most recent plan submitted to the village board by 3835 Main Street LLC, the partnership proposing the new hotel project, the length of the main building was reduced by 11 feet from 162 feet to 150 feet. In addition to reducing the number of separate cottages which contain a total of seven of the 85 total rooms, a crosswalk will be moved about 70 feet to the north, to give better sight lines to motorists entering and leaving a parking lot on the east side of Main Street where a former tennis court presently sits.

The size of the frontage of the building surfaced as an issue in the previous meeting of the DRB, when the proposed 162 foot length was compared unfavorably to the existing building, which is about 120 feet in length.

The revised plans called for an expansion of the number of parking spaces to 124, but the one condition the DRB imposed on the application was reducing that back to 108, which was the number of spaces in an earlier version.

A marble sidewalk will also be extended by about 510 feet along the western side of Main Street that will link up with an existing sidewalk.

In his presentation to the DRB Monday night, Clark French, a principal partner in 3835 Main Street LLC, emphasized the total amount of greenspace had increased from 32 percent to 40 percent, well above the 30 percent level called for in the Village ordinances

.

"The project will revitalize an historically sensitive site with appropriate architecture and a site plan that enhances the neighborhood," French told the DRB members. "We will continue to be conscientious neighbors."

It will also create jobs, he added.

French said that he expected the project to yield about 120 construction jobs during the initial phase when the building is being erected, and about 98 permanent jobs once the new hotel is up and running.

The entire cost of the project, from start to finish, is expected to reach about $20 million, making it one of the biggest construction projects ever mounted in the Village, he said.

When completed, the hotel will sit roughly on the same site as the current, and long shuttered Village Country Inn. Two existing buildings directly to the north will be converted into cottages and a third cottage will be built along the street to the north of them. By reducing the number of proposed cottages from five to three, French and his partners were able to expand the distance between them, addressing another criticism the DRB had advanced during earlier phases of the hearing on the application.

"We're using a lot less of the property," French said during Monday night's hearing. "

The hotel project will not include the Nicklewhite property immediately south of the existing hotel building. That property parcel was not among the several that French and his partners acquired as they assembled the site on which to build the new hotel.

From here, the partners plan to move on to obtain a state Act 250 permit as well as several water permits that will be required and are part of the Act 250 process. French said Tuesday morning that they hoped to complete the Act 250 phase by the end of the fall and start demolishing the existing Village Country Inn shortly after that, possibly in January. If all goes according to plan, construction could conceivably start around April 1 of next year.

Construction of the new facility will take about 14 months, he estimated, and the projected opening would take place sometime in June, 2015.

"We're thrilled with the outcome, and just want to thank the board (DRB) for the consideration," he said. "We're looking forward to a wonderful project."

Prior to the hearing Monday night, which closed when the board went into deliberative session to vote, the DRB held its annual reorganization meeting. Don Brodie was elected as the new chairman, replacing Barry Brown, who chose not to stand for re-election. During the reorganization meeting, Brodie praised Brown for a job well done.

Thomas Deck was elected as the board's vice chairman, and presided over the hearing that followed since Brodie has recused himself throughout the course of the discussion due to a conflict of interest. James Carter was re-elected as the board's secretary.