GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It’s likely that, in 2017, nobody at Glens Falls City Hall would have guessed it would have taken so long. City Mayor Bill Collins wouldn’t – he wasn’t even the mayor yet at the time.
On Friday, though, it was Collins who stood under the podium beneath a cloudy, pre-rain sky, to celebrate a project that has spanned three mayors, a venerated late economic developer, and the majority of a $10 million grant from the state of New York. The Glens Falls Event & Market Center is on the rise at last.
“This promises to be a game-changer in downtown Glens Falls – especially on South Street, long known by locals, sarcastically, as the ‘Street of Dreams,'” said Collins on Friday, in front of the empty lot where the farmer’s market and event space is set to be built. “We dream of the day when events happen here so large that we have to close down the street, to the end of the block. When that day happens, we will have a new name: ‘The Street of Dreams Come True.'”
Collins and other officials from the city and state put golden shovels into soil at the property of 57 South St. The site was once the home of an Off-Track Betting facility, which was demolished to make way for a new home for the Glens Falls Farmers Market, doubling as a mixed use space for live music and other events.
The project has changed shapes in the years since its inception. After setting aside $5 million of $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding, the city created an initial proposal that had to be retrofitted after what Economic Development Director Jeff Flagg has referred to as 30 months of standstill caused by COVID-19. The market to come is a leaf-shaped building designed to maximize sunlight and airflow.
The newer design – first showed to Glens Falls residents last year – was also spurred by spikes in supply costs that the coronavirus pandemic left behind. Two currently empty buildings – 36 Elm and 45 South – will be renovated and put to use. 45 South, formerly home to the bar Hot Shots, will host a restaurant space on the first floor and apartments upstairs. 36 Elm has a history as a tannery, an artist’s studio, and more other things than Flagg could name – followed by a lot of nothing.
“The bigger challenge, on a variety of levels, has been the incubator building,” Flagg said. “That’s been empty for 20 years.”
Currently, the Glens Falls Farmers Market is housed in an outdoor pavilion closer to the start of South Street off of Glen and Bay. The ultimate purpose of the move was to draw visitors and locals further down South Street – in order to attract new businesses to the storefronts that have long sat vacant across the street. It all happens while giving farmer’s market vendors a new, bigger space with more room to load in their wares.
On Friday, two such businesses opened just across the street from the future Event & Market Center. One was the Golden Monkey Lounge, a cocktail bar that opened early to welcome in the crowd of onlookers there to wish the project well on Friday. The other, Taco Kings Jalisco, enjoyed a first day of serving tacos, burritos, and more from the former home of Irish Pizza. Next door to them both, more storefronts remain boarded up and closed to the world – for now.
“We are looking at some opportunities to repurpose those buildings,” Flagg said. “As you can see, there are a couple empty buildings here and down at the end of the block, and we need to tackle those. We needed to make sure we could impose our own deadlines and expectations before we could put any on anybody else, but I think now that this project is beginning, we are now in a position where we can look at further acivity on the rest of the block.”
New York State Senator Dan Stec and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner also spoke in praise of the project starting construction. Flagg said construction on the Glens Falls Event & Market Center is planned to be complete in fall 2024.