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Developer upset with city, shuts down projects

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OGDENSBURG — Plattsburgh developer Gilbert J. Jones will stop work on his waterfront hotel and marina projects here and close the downtown movie theater he owns — all because of a falling out with the city’s planning and development office.

On Tuesday, the city Planning and Development Board turned down Mr. Jones’s request to amend a site plan for his proposed Riverfront Marina and Hotel, 119 W. River St., to include a 480-square-foot building by the 74-slip Oswegatchie River marina that would serve as a kitchen-equipped concession stand with outside seating.

The problem was that Mr. Jones had the building put up, demolishing the smaller structure that was a plain harbormaster’s kiosk, without a site plan and outside the purview of a May 8 building permit that covered razing and renovation at the hotel. He told the board Tuesday he was “not making excuses” for what he did, but claimed he had a “verbal commitment” from Code Enforcement Officer Gregg A. Mallette to go ahead with the new building.

On Thursday, however, Mr. Jones turned up the volume, making it clear he was upset at the city for not cutting him some slack. Work on two apartments will be finished. But the 35-room hotel won’t be built out of the former Ramada Inn by next year, the new building will remain an unfinished shell and the marina won’t open. His Ogdensburg Cinemas at 219 Ford St., closed for repairs, will stay shut.

“I’m just going to let it all rot,” he said. “Everything with the city is no, no, no, no. The whole thing is because of that harbormaster building.”

The cinema, according to Mr. Jones, loses $5,000 annually.

It also needs a digital projection system that, at an estimated cost of $100,000, he cannot afford.

Interim Planning and Development Director Andrea L. Smith said she heard Mr. Jones’s threats to shut down before.

“He has intentionally evaded the process,” she said Thursday.

Mrs. Smith, who dismissed the developer’s claim that Mr. Mallette endorsed the building, said her office wants to work with Mr. Jones. But the new building, she said, represented enough of a “substantial change” of use to warrant full site plan review.

Mrs. Smith isn’t alone in hoping that Mr. Jones continues his development. So does a fellow marina district stakeholder.

“I hope that Mr. Jones gets everything worked out,” said William D. Hosmer, who owns the recently opened Hosmer’s Marina, 54 E. River St., and is a city councilor. “The development of the waterfront is Ogdensburg’s future.”

Mr. Jones said he has spent $200,000 of his money on the hotel and marina project, which he has estimated at costing about $1.2 million.

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