By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor
Tom Elliott is the latest developer to enter the scene in downtown Glens Falls.
He and girlfriend Susy Westfall already bought 12 Warren Street, which once was home to JMZ architects and now has Black Anvil body art/tattoo parlor on its first floor and an apartment upstairs. They paid $345,000, said Realtor Mark Levack.
Now Mr. Elliott — with lifelong friend and business partner Rich Kunzle — is about to close on purchase of 170 Glen Street, former home of H.R. Tyrer Galleries auction house — where he says they have big plans for renovations.
The 6,500 square-foot building was listed at $319,000, but the closing, expected this week, hadn’t happened so a final sale price wasn’t available as of press time.
Mr. Levack also brokered this sale, which was listed by Berkshire Hathaway.
“It’s more development in downtown Glens Falls, Mr. Levack says. “They are fanning the flames of progress.”
Mr. Elliott, 56, said that “in my past life” he was an agent for professional golfers.
He and Mr. Kunzle, best friends since ninth grade, co-own Linksters Paddy Wagon, a chain of 35 bars in Sarasota and along Florida’s Gulf Coast whose main brand is the Paddy Wagon Irish Pub.
Both sons of contractors, “we have a background in design and construction properties.”
Born, raised and a lifelong resident of Sarasota, Mr. Elliott said he long has summered at Bolton Landing.
“It was 20 years ago. We went on vacation with the kids, and I was watching the U.S. Open at Tavern on the Pond in Bolton when I learned the bar was for sale because of an owners’ dispute,” he recalls.
Next thing, “I’d bought the building, but I didn’t operate it as a bar for very long.” The Lake George Land Conservancy approached him and purchased the building for their offices. He said he has since purchased a couple of houses in Bolton, including a cabin they rent through Airbnb.
Mr. Elliott says he, his ex-wife and their four children ages 8 to 20 still summer there. “Bolton’s cool,” he says, “but I found myself coming down to Glens Falls more and more. I don’t dig the tourist scene.”
He, his girlfriend and the kids spent the first part of the summer in the two-floor apartment at 12 Warren. “We had a blast remodeling it,” he says of the brick and exposed beam loft space. They just returned to Florida, and are renting the space via Airbnb through agent Susan Siplon.
Mr. Elliott says, “We’re doing super-great with booking for 12 Warren. We expect to rent year-round.”
As to the new purchase, “I’m excited for 170 Glen,” Mr. Elliott says. He’s looking to rent out the first floor retail space, in talks potentially with a hair salon.
“The bones are good,” he says. “We’ll immediately re-do the facade,” currently deep burgundy and green. “Those Christmas colors are maybe a little tired,” he says.
The bigger plan: “To do two really cool apartments on the second and third floors.”
One will be two stories and four bedrooms using part of the second floor and the whole third floor, showcasing the large windows that look out on Glen Street. He plans an enclosed porch and outdoor patio over the roof at the back of the building. “It’ll be a real badass unit,” Mr. Elliott says.
The other apartment will be smaller, at the back of the second floor.
Mr. Elliott says they expect to invest under a million dollars in the renovation. Ethan Hall of Glens Falls is the architect.
They’ll rent the apartments via Airbnb.
“Airbnb is super cool right now. I don’t know how long it will be sustainable, but it will definitely have legs for a while. There’s such an audience for it,” says Mr. Elliott.
“We love what’s happening in Glens Falls. It’s a great spot between Lake George and Saratoga, with more and more happening right here.
“Living in downtown, you can walk out the door every day and there’s always something,” citing Take a Bite, Food Truck Corrals at the Shirt Factory, Adirondack Theatre Festival, outdoor concerts and movies in City Park, restaurants such as Morgan and Co., [farmacy], and Mikado.
“I kept thinking the kids would get tired of it, six of us in this tiny apartment, but they didn’t. There’s stuff to do day and night.”
Mr. Elliott also collects classic vehicles. His 1963 Ford F-100, finished in a unique raw green and linen yellow patina, was a staple on Warren Street this summer.
“I dig Glens Falls,” says Mr. Elliott. “I see an opportunity for growth that’s affordable now. It’s possible to do deals that are prohibitive in other markets.”
Expressing admiration for Glens Falls developer Peter Hoffman, Mr. Elliott says, “I love these old buildings. I consider it a matter of stewardship, preserving the history of a building built in the 1800s.
“It’s frustrating to see old buildings not being cared for, when the ownership trips over dollars to make up nickels, rather than make the initial investment to draw the people and set the bar higher.”
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