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 theyre simply exploring their options and looking for the best fit.
You cant 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.
Im sure youve 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. Gerrishs presentation focused on how the hotel would benefit the Potsdam community.
What were 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, Theres a lot of things to do, but theres no place to stay.
He acknowledged that one 60-room hotel wont alleviate the communitys lodging problems, but he said it would be a start.
Right now were a place people come to, but were 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 childrens 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 youre 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 dont understand Potsdam. They think two rights off the highway is too much, he said. We dont 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 dont 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.
Weve 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.