$3 million for Richmondville, Sharon projects


By Jim Poole and Patsy Nicosia

Two Schoharie County businesses are getting more than $3 million in Restore NY grants.
Maranatha Family Center in Warnerville will receive $2.3 million, and the Imperial Spa in Sharon Springs will get $1 million.
It’s the first time in several years the state supported Schoharie County projects and the most Restore NY money local businesses have ever received.
“They’re both good projects,” said county Economic Developer Jody Zakrevsky. “It’s nice the state recognizes how important they are.”
Maranatha, now on Elm Street in Cobleskill, will build a health center and gym in Warnerville. Sharon Springs Inc. will rehabilitate the historic Imperial Baths as a health spa.
“Both of these have a regional impact,” Mr. Zakrevsky said. “They’re not just for people here. They’ll bring in people from outside the area.”
Neither grant will fund the businesses’ entire projects. However, the Restore grants will give the businesses “quite a bit more leverage” to secure future grants, Mr. Zakrevsky said.
Asked whether he was surprised Schoharie County received two Restore NY grants, Mr. Zakrevsky said, “Yes and no.
“I’m surprised that because we’re small, we got two.
“But all along I thought both were important and had a major economic impact for the state. These are projects that create jobs.”

Maranatha’s grant will fund the first phase of owner Stella McKenna’s project: a two-story, 24,000-square-foot health clinic, with fitness and physical therapy on the first floor and rental offices and a large open room on the second.
“We already have doctors interested in renting the offices,” Ms. McKenna said.
The first phase includes demolishing several barns on the 24-acre property but restoring one historic Dutch barn.
Architect Clemens McGiver will develop plans for the health clinic over the winter, and construction should begin in spring, according to Maranatha Vice President Lynnette Kubat.
She and Ms. McKenna said the clinic should be open in December 2010.
The next phase of the project will build a 48,000- to 50,000,-square-foot gym behind the health clinic. The gym will be for basketball, indoor soccer and other sports, Ms. McKenna said.
The gym will have additional uses, such as being a Red Cross evacuation center in emergencies, Ms. McKenna said.
Future plans include playing fields behind the gym, a park and links to the Cobleskill Creekside Trail.
The total project cost is $7.5 million. Ms. Kubat said it will create 100 to 150 jobs when finished.
Ms. McKenna said the Maranatha Family Center will reach out to work with other agencies, such as SUNY Cobleskill and Schoharie ARC, to broaden their programs.
“This is not just about business,” Ms. McKenna said. “This is about community.”
She credited many officials with helping to secure the grant, including Governor Paterson’s office, Congress Paul Tonko, Senator Jim Seward and Assemblyman Paul Tonko.

Imperial Baths
Like Mr. Zakrevsky. Bill Bateman, architect for Sharon Springs Inc., said he thinks the fact that the project’s impact will cross county lines worked in its favor.
“I have to think that was something the state looked at,” Mr. Bateman said.
“Schoharie, Montgomery, Otsego Counties…this will impact more than just Sharon Springs.”
In 2005, Sharon Springs Inc. bought a half-dozen historic and decaying hotels and mineral spas—including the Adler Hotel and the Imperial Baths—with plans to renovate them into a modern day spa.
Plans have grown and evolved in the four years since and the group of investors now plans to focus reopening the Imperial Baths first.
Renovations there are expected to run at least $6-$7 million with work on the Adler another $12 million.
Again echoing Mr. Zakrevsky, Mr. Bateman said the $1 million Restore NY grant will allow them to leverage other financing.
“It’s not everyday someone gives you a million dollars,” he said. “We’re confident this will open up other funding possibilities. And we see this as a catalyst to a lot of other ancillary projects.”
Sharon Springs Inc.’s immediate plans call for renovating the Imperial Baths as a 41,200 square-foot luxuary spa with 6,000 square feet of outdoor bathing space.
The spa expects to draw 80,000 “day trippers annually, gross $10.3 million in its first year, and employ 155 full and part-time workers, not including 136 construction and related jobs.
Mr. Bateman said they hope to start demolition in the spring. That will be followed by retrofitting the baths, hopefully by the summer.
“It’s been a slow process because this is such a big project,” he added. “It’s not something you can put together overnight and when people see it, they’ll understand.”