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Planning board OKs three proposals

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Downtown Ogdensburg is going to be humming this summer with new business and construction activity thanks to the city planning board’s approval Tuesday of three projects.

The board voted 5-0 in favor of approving both preliminary and final site plan reviews for:

* United Helpers plans to move its day habilitation, staff training and other operations from its former Cedars Nursing Home, 6695 Route 37, town of Oswegatchie, to the ex-Filtran Inc. building, 102 Ford St.

* Plattsburgh developer Gilbert J. Jones will build two 1,200-square-foot apartments with six more to follow at the former Ramada Inn hotel at 119 W. River St., which he also plans to renovate for opening in 2013.

* River Valley Tanning will open an 800-square-foot salon in a former doctor’s office at 230 Ford St.

Voting in favor of the three site plans were chairman Timothy J. Redmond, Joshua K. Blair, Paul Stevenson, Frank Perretta and Linda Pellett.

United Helpers plans to convert the 15,000-square-foot ex-Filtran building into a place for classrooms, meeting rooms and offices for 30 employees and a daily estimated 25 developmentally disabled clients.

Administrator Michele M. Montroy said the agency has to be out of the Route 37 building by September. Its purchase by town of Oswegatchie businessman James Ma is pending closure, she said.

At the same time, United Helpers has two undisclosed backup sites in the city to pursue in case the Ford Street building proposal falls through.

Mr. Jones will demolish the section of the former hotel that contains its indoor pool - which will be taken out - to make room for the two apartments and parking.

That will be done this summer, by which time he expects to have a nearby 47-slip marina on the Oswegatchie River reopened with fuel sales and a harbormaster’s kiosk.

The hotel will be back in business in 2013, Mr. Jones said.

It will be renovated from its current 76-room layout to 35 rooms larger than the originals.

Mr. Jones will call his $1.2 million investment the Riverfront Marina and Hotel and hopes he will be the one to turn it into an anchor for the city’s marina district.

Since it opened in 1992, the hotel has been through a succession of owners, name changes, franchise affiliations, foreclosures and, ultimately, closings.

The stucco building has also been vandalized, burglarized and hit with city code enforcement violations.

Keith D. Morgan said that he and his wife, Caitlin E., plan to open the tanning salon “as soon as possible” and certainly by this summer.

The Morgans own and operate the nearby Busy Corner Cafe, 234 Ford St.

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