Imperial baths project files formal application
Posted in the Nassau Forum
#1 Dec 24, 2013
By Patsy Nicosia
Sharon Springs got its first look at Sharon Springs Inc.'s latest plans for the Imperial Baths Thursday, accepted them as a formal application for the project, and then took the first steps toward environmental review.
"I'm a little shocked," said Mayor Doug Plummer after a presentation by the developers and their team. "It's been eight years coming...This is something we can really take seriously. This is legit. This is beautiful."
No timetable has yet been established for the project; the review process is expected to take two to three months.
Because SSI is rebuilding a historic property but not substantially changing its fašade, Michelle Kennedy, attorney for the village, said Planning Board approval isn't required.
The village agreed to be lead agency for the project and to require a full EAF-environmental assessment form.
It will also begin contacting agencies likely to have a stake in the project including the Department of Transportation. The Department of Health, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Town of Sharon, Schoharie County, and the industrial Development Agency.
SSI agreed to put up to $8,000 in trust for project review by CT Male, who the village has retained for the job, and another $2,000 in trust for legal review.
Ken Kim of the Concept Design Group said he sees the year-round "destination spa" as something that will build on Sharon's history as a resort community to help revitalize it.
Sketches showed the now-dilapidated baths and next-door Doctor's Offices joined by an atrium with a through-view to multiple outdoor pools, landscaped grounds, and Brimstone Creek.
Mr. Kim said they plan to keep and restore the existing roof lines and columns; the entry point will feature photos highlighting Sharon's once grand past as a spa village.
There will be a second atrium area inside, he said, as well as a restaurant, salon and nail spa, and locker rooms with stations set up to provide various spa services.
"We design an experience," Mr. Kim said. "We think that is very important."
The project's owner, Kyusang Cho, owns a successful bus tour company with an established clientele and Joanne Crum, attorney and engineer for the project, pointed that will be to Sharon's advantage with people who have already purchased travel packages adding a stop at the Imperial Baths to their plans.
Some of the issues SSI will have to address include parking and water.
Though most visitors will arrive by bus, plans call for 192 parking spaces; it's possible they could be located at the old Washington Hotel, demolished this fall, with a shuttle running to the spa.
The village frequently struggles with water quality issues and shuts down its water tower over the winter.
The project's build-up will be gradual, Mr. Kim said, and though there could eventually be a need for additional water, "water consumption in spas isn't that significant; it's a closed loop system."
"We just want to be sure we have it [water]," Mayor Plummer said.
Whether there will be a PILOT agreement---payment-in-lieu-of -taxes-has yet to be determined.
Mayor Plummer said an earlier request was for seven years with no taxes, which he called "crazy."
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