Sunday, December 10, 2023

Townhome plan advances for former Mead’s Nursery

By Zander Frost, Chronicle Staff Writer

Two years ago, when Dick Mead was still living, Foothills Builders LLC signed a contract to purchase the former Mead’s Nursery property on the 11 acres that stretches from Ridge Road to Meadow Brook Road just below Quaker Road in Queensbury.

Now the project, which envisions as many as 77 townhomes and a community center, has taken a big step forward. Last week, the Queensbury Planning Board issued a positive recommendation on a zoning change, Town Senior Planner Stuart Baker confirmed to The Chronicle. Now it moves to the Town Board.

Foothills Builders, 2 years later, 11 acres — would fulfill desire of late owner Dick Mead; rejected ‘big box,’ wanted residential.

Joe Leuci and his father, also Joe Leuci, own Foothills Builders, LLC. They’ve been under contract to buy the site since December 2020.

“We’re very excited about the project,” the younger Mr. Leuci said. “It’s going to provide a lot of housing, which is certainly
something that’s been a shortage in Queensbury of late.”

He said they’re planning “a lifestyle community,” including a gym and space for residents to use for events and parties.

Foothills Builders plan to own and operate the property themselves. “We want to make it a place where people choose to live,” Mr. Leuci said. “A lot of times people might rent an apartment because they don’t feel they can afford a house. So we feel like this is going to be more of a place where people want to live.”

MaryAnn Pendergrass — whose late parents Dick and Madeline Mead operated the nursery — told The Chronicle the project is “honoring my dad’s wishes.”

She said he had rebuffed feelers from a “big box store…for more money than we sold it for,” because he wanted to do right by the neighborhood.

“Every time he had to go and ask for some kind of a permission variance, like to put up another greenhouse or whatever, the neighbors were extremely supportive,” she said.

“That’s why it was his desire that it become residential,” she added.

She said, “My dad said that over and over,” in the years she worked for him from 1982 to 2022.

Ms. Pendergrass said before her father passed away around two years ago, “he accepted the offer and signed the contract…He was completely coherent, knew what he was doing.”

She said that “to drive by and see the property vacant was hard when my dad was alive. It was hard on him. Now it’s been two years since he passed away. And the property is — it’s just in need of being rehabilitated.”

“I’m excited. I want this to go forward. I want to see somebody in there starting to make this property come to life,” Ms. Pendergrass said.
“When we first heard of this, I thought oh, that might even appeal to me.”

“It’s got an entrance on Meadowbrook and an entrance on Ridge. It’s on the bus line. It just made sense to us — that it would be a great place for people to live.”

Mr. Leuci said the final number of units is “to be determined,” after town input.

Mr. Baker, the Senior Planner, says the zoning change would be from commercial intensive to moderate density residential.

What happens now?

First, Mr. Baker said, “the town board needs to land on if they’re comfortable with the proposed zoning changes.”

He said the “biggest criteria for discussion probably being the density, number of units per acre.”

He said the Planning Board suggested reducing the number of units per acre.

“They did not specify a number, they just said less than eight,” he said.

Once they agree on density, Mr. Baker said the next step would be up to Foothills Builders “to put together a full and complete application for review.”

Foothills project on Main Street

Meanwhile, across town, Foothills Builders will soon break ground on another project, a “mixed use building off Exit 18,” at 80 Main Street across from the new Adirondack Trust bank building.

Mr. Leuci said it will have around 8,500 square feet of commercial space and 24 apartments.

“It’s part of the new Main Street zoning that was recently changed off Exit 18…

“We feel it’s a project that really fits the zoning profile of that area and what the town sees as a path forward to developing that space.”

Why does Mr. Leuci — himself a 2007 Queensbury grad — think of all of the construction happening here?

“I think Queensbury in particular is a very desirable town,” he said. “Just the access off the Northway is very convenient.

“There’s a lot of people who commute south for jobs, and it’s not a treacherous commute to get down there.

“And the amount of amenities that we have — we have Lake George, there’s hiking, there’s West Mountain, The Great Escape, there’s no shortage of things to do. And then Glens Falls being revitalized. I think it’s just a nice central spot for people to live.”

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