Northern New York Newspapers
NNY Business
NNY Living
Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
Related Stories

Developers present hotel plans to Potsdam school board


POTSDAM - One night after making a presentation before the Waddington Town Council, Jeffrey and Rebecca Gerrish presented their plans for a hotel in Potsdam to the Potsdam Central School District Board of Education.

Prior to the presentation, Mr. Gerrish said the Monday night presentation in Waddington was “the first step in the study process. Waddington was a new opportunity for us,” he said.

Mr. Gerrish said they’re simply exploring their options and “looking for the best fit.”

“You can’t be everything to everybody,” he said, adding that at least initially their plans only call for the construction of one hotel somewhere in St. Lawrence County.

Toward the end of his presentation Tuesday, Mr. Gerrish acknowledged the conversations with Waddington, although not mentioning the community by name.

“I’m sure you’ve heard other communities have reached out to us, and we are entertaining other ideas, but this was our first choice,” he said, referring to the project in their hometown.

Much of Mr. Gerrish’s presentation focused on how the hotel would benefit the Potsdam community.

“What we’re going to do is a hotel presentation, but keep in mind this is also a community presentation,” he said to kick off the presentation.

Speaking about the community and its need for a hotel, Mr. Gerrish said, “There’s a lot of things to do, but there’s no place to stay.”

He acknowledged that one 60-room hotel won’t alleviate the community’s lodging problems, but he said it would be a start.

“Right now we’re a place people come to, but we’re also a place people leave,” he said. “Hopefully this will keep people here a little longer.”

Mr. Gerrish also talked about some of the facilities they are planning to offer at the hotel including a children’s play room, video conferencing center and a ballroom that could accompany weddings and other events with crowds of more than 300 people.

“If you have a wedding of 200 people or more you had better hope for good weather, because you’re going to be outside,” he said, stressing the need for such a facility in Potsdam.

As for the video conferencing center, Mr. Gerrish said they will be partnering with SLIC Network Solutions, who will provide and manage that service at the hotel.

“This will give businesses the opportunity to do global business,” he said.

Mr. Gerrish also noted that other developers have looked at the same site on Sandstone Drive in the past.

“Others have cut and run, because they don’t understand Potsdam. They think two rights off the highway is too much,” he said. “We don’t think two turns is too much to ask for... If they have problems finding a four-story building in downtown Potsdam, there are probably other issues.”

The presentation also included an initial proposal of what the Gerrishes would be looking for in terms of a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement.

The proposal called for two tax-free years, to be followed by three years where the property be taxed at 10 percent, two years where it would be taxed at 25 percent, two years where it would be taxed at 50 percent and one year where it would be taxed at 75 percent before paying 100 percent in the business’ eleventh year.

“We don’t want to cause a problem, but something is better than nothing,” he said referring to the less than 100 percent tax payments.

As for the two-year tax free pass, Mr. Gerrish said that would allow them to get established.

“We’ve got to get into business,” he said. “The only thing worse than a vacant lot is a busted hotel.”

Mr. Gerrish said he and his wife will be presenting their plans to the village planning board on June 21 and the zoning board on June 28.

He said they will need a variance from the zoning board, since the hotel proposal calls for a four-story building.

Commenting rules:
  1. Stick to the topic of the article/letter/editorial.
  2. When responding to issues raised by other commenters, do not engage in personal attacks or name-calling.
  3. Comments that include profanity/obscenities or are libelous in nature will be removed without warning.
Violators' commenting privileges may be revoked indefinitely. By commenting you agree to our full Terms of Use.
Syracuse Football Tickets Giveaway
Connect with Us
DCO on FacebookWDT on Twitter