COLONIE — As it celebrates its 100th year in the jewelry business, Frank Adams is looking to move from its home in Stuyvesant Plaza to Wolf Road.
“We have been at three locations in 100 years. This location fits where we want to be for the next 100 years,” Jeffrey Russell, one of the owners of Frank Adams, told the Planning Board on Tuesday, March 8. “The location is perfect and the design of the building looks amazing and it will be a focal point on Wolf Road. It will be a destination.”
One reason for the move, he said, is the new location will have a dedicated parking lot for the jewelry store while Stuyvesant Plaza is an outdoor mall with many stores sharing a large parking lot. Parking, though, and the configuration of the two proposed buildings on 1.5 acres near the intersection of Cerone Commercial Drive, were a topic of discussion during the sketch plan review.
As presented, the front of the buildings — the second building does not yet have a tenant — would face away from Wolf Road. The jewelry store would be a one-story 7,050-square-foot building and the second would be one-story, 5,750-square-foot.
One the one hand, parking would be code compliant, in the back of the building and not along the major thoroughfare but on the other, the back of the building would face Wolf Road.
“There is a conflict of zoning, but historically, this board has had the practice of moving the building back and allowing the parking in front,” said Planning Board member Craig Shamlian. “I would be in favor of pushing the building back further and allowing parking in the front.”
Another drawback to the configuration, said Sean Maguire, director of the Planning and Economic Development Department, is that it does not further the objective of making Wolf Road the town’s Main Street.
“We want to see Wolf Road active. Not a passive place where cars pull into the parking lot and the people to into the building. If there is no pedestrian activity it looks like dead space,” he said. “If we want to leverage Wolf Road as the town’s downtown we have to have pedestrian traffic.”
Russell said parking in the back of the store is part of an overall security plan that includes bullet proof glass and a fulltime security guard on site. Also, he said, the merchandise he sells — high end jewelry and watches by makers like Rolex — does not lend itself to casual pedestrian traffic.
“You don’t walk down Wolf Road and decide you want to come into Frank Adams Jewelry. You want to park comfortable in a place that creates a safe warm environment for customers,” he said. “We have an approval from Rolex and the approval from some other brands we sell. This whole process has been a year in the works.”
Steven Heider, chair of the Planning Board and the former police chief, wasn’t necessarily buying the security argument but was not opposed to the configuration as presented.
“Of the activities we had on wolf road, they tend to leave the back way because they know they will get tied up on traffic on Wolf Road,” he said. “Wolf road wonderful walkable community but they are walking to one of the restaurant or the fast food places. They are not walking to the jewelry stores,” he said. “I’m less concerned with parking in the front than the design of the front. It should look like the front of the building even if it is not the front of the building.”
Jonathan Draper, the architect from WCGS who designed the buildings, said the side that does face Wolf Road would be glass and “attractive and dynamic.”
The project will need to come back before the board at least twice more — for concept acceptance and final site plan approval — before construction can begin and the board is asking for a sketch of having the front of the building face Wolf Road to compare to the current layout.
The site, owned by developer and entrepreneur Tom Burke, is the former home of the Lazare auto store and a plan to redevelop the site was approved in 2018. A Longhorn Steakhouse was built on the south end of the site and opened in 2019. The two buildings currently in front of the Planning Board would be on the north end of the site and in between there is an approved Hyatt Hotel, but construction was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts it has had on the hospitality industry.
The Planning Board had previously approved a restaurant for the portion of the parcel where the jewelry store and the second building are now proposed, said Nick Costa, of Advanced Engineering and Surveying, who presented the plan on behalf of Frank Adams. The site is zoned Commercial Officer Residential and would have 64 parking spaces and two means of egress, one on Wolf Road and on one Cerone Commercial Drive. Much of the site work has already been completed as per the approvals in 2018.