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Total redo of a Glens Falls classic

Chris Patten, 34, buys & remakes 274 Glen

By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor

“When I was in college, I heard that more millionaires are made in real estate than any other line of work,” says 34-year-old South Glens Falls native Chris Patten. “One of my instructors, J. Buckley Bryan, Jr., said it, and it inspired me.” The college was Adirondack Community, now SUNY Adirondack, and Mr. Patten took Mr. Bryan’s advice to heart. He has been buying, building, rehabbing and learning ever since.

His current, most visible project is the complete gutting and redo of 274 Glen, the more than a century old, long mostly unused, former hotel building at the corner of Glen and South Streets in downtown Glens Falls.

Chris Patten

He bought it in March for $390,000. Adirondack Trust is financing the project, he said.

By late spring or early summer, Mr. Patten aims to offer 18 apartments on the top two floors and a restaurant and four commercial rentals on the first floor.

Craft on 9, the Moreau eatery, will move into the completely redone former Mikado space (see sidebar), and Mr. Patten said two of the four planned commercial spaces are also spoken for.

“There will be direct access from the apartments to the restaurant,” Mr. Patten noted. “There’s a new elevator, laundry, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, high-efficiency lighting and heat and air condition, oversized windows and high ceilings.” There’s also a security camera system.

Did 10 Chester as 21-year-old

Mr. Patten, a 2002 South High grad, graduated from the community college in 2004 with a degree in business administration.

He says he “got an internship with Realty USA in Saratoga, got my real estate license, and when I was 21 years old I bought my first home at 10 Chester Street in Glens Falls.” He said his parents Howard and Dayrene helped finance the $195,000 purchase with a home equity line of credit.

Mr. Patten renovated the five-apartment house for four years, while also working other jobs. In November 2009, he said, he sold the house for $379,000. He believes it’s the highest per-unit price sale in the history of the City of Glens Falls.

“Then I said to myself, ‘You need to take that profit and buy another house.’ So I bought a rundown mobile home at 105 Fourth Street in Queensbury in 2009. That was my first spec house, and that’s when I started building houses.”

Worked many jobs, learn trades

Fast forward 14 years, and the newly married Mr. Patten has built 51 houses, flipped several more, worked for Realty USA, Hank’s Quality Flooring, Jack Hall Plumbing & Heating, Bovis Lend Lease, Able Home Improvement, Turner Construction and GlobalFoundries.

He and wife Sara, wed on Sept. 2, reside in one of six houses he built at Ridgewood Estates, his Queensbury subdivision off Ridge Road just north of Route 149.

274 Glen Street, Glens Falls

“I was a sponge,” Mr. Patten says of his work experiences.

“Every job I had, I was picking up different things. With Hank’s, I learned how to lay hardwood floors, so if in one of my houses I need to do that, I can. With Jack Hall, I learned how to install a furnace and sweat a pipe. My grandfather, Howard, who was in the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, also taught me how to do that.”

(Mr. Patten said his father, also Howard, is a crane operator for Rozell Industries, and his other grandfather, Bill Barker, built a lot of homes on Feeder Dam Road in South Glens Falls, near Mr. Patten’s childhood home on Jackson Road. He also credits his uncle, Dave Woodward, for nurturing his interest in home building.)

Mr. Patten adds that Glens Falls redeveloper “Peter Hoffman is another one of my inspirations. I was working for Hank’s, laying floor at Peter’s Water Tower Village Apartments in South Glens Falls, and I got to know him.”

Mr. Patten notes, “I’ve always had a passion for building. I built tree forts and all kinds of stuff as a kid.” He operates two companies, Patten Property Development and Patten Property Management.

250 tons removed, dormers added

The 274 Glen Street building is “an old hotel abandoned since 1976,” Mr. Patten said. “It was built as the American House Hotel in 1888 after it burned down in 1886 or 1887. We have seen charred wood that was reused from the fire.

“When I first walked in upstairs, it was like a ghost town. It was scary. There were old mirrors…It was an old hotel.”

He did some research and discovered there had been two major renovations, “neither of them a complete gut,” he said. “So I went in and removed all of the lathe and plaster. We’ve taken more than 500,000 pounds of material out of there.”

Mr. Patten said he noticed that the building was engineered in a way that “it settled a bit in the middle. So I thought, let’s do it right. So we took everything out, lifted it up, and straightened everything out.”

He tore the roof off “to allow more space and proper breathing, and added dormers on the third floor. Two apartments have clear views of West Mountain,” he said, “along with views of City Park.”

There will be 13 one-bedroom and five two-bedroom apartments, with rents starting at $800 for the one-bedroom units, he said.

On the first floor, there’s a restaurant space and four commercial spaces. The restaurant space and two commercial spaces are already spoken for, he said.

“And I’m looking to buy more in downtown Glens Falls,” says Mr. Patten. “This is the first of many.”

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