CHESTER - An ambitious retail development is planned for Northway Exit 25, and area officials say it might boost tourist and commercial activity in Chestertown and Brant Lake.
John Behan, a community planner and architectural designer from Chestertown and Saratoga Springs, is planning to build a two-story retail center, called Chestertown Gateway, next to the Exit 25 southbound offramp.
The the L-shaped building is intended for a convenience store and gas station, plus a restaurant and shops to sell Adirondack foods and crafts.
The development, set on a two-acre parcel at the intersection of I-87 Northway and state Rte. 8, has received site-plan approval from the town of Chester Planning Board.
Behan said this week that if he and his wife Cynthia line up some additional investors in the project, Chestertown Gateway could be open for business as soon as summer 2012.
"We want to offer something really nice and different to prompt travelers to get off the highway - someplace nice and pleasant," Behan said. "We see a need for a unique place for businesses that's affordable, accommodating both local folks and travelers."
He said Chestertown Gateway would offer travelers' necessities and locally created products that would support various area businesses, whether it's Adirondack furniture and d cor items, locally-grown or processed foods, or quality mountain crafts.
Chestertown Gateway, he added, would add up to dozens of new jobs and bring in revenue from travelers who would not otherwise be visiting and spending money in Chester.
The building would feature Adirondack-style architectural cues, including styling details that would be reflected in the canopy overhanging four gasoline pumps. Initial renderings show a building with multiple dormers, a deck and a historic, semi-rustic appearance.
Behan added that his development was likely to boost business in downtown Chestertown by drawing motorists off the Northway - and many of them would likely venture down Rte. 8 to explore the hamlet, which has experienced a drastic decline in tourist traffic over the past several decades.
"It will be a pleasant place offering unique things, and will supplement what's now available," he said.
Town of Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe agreed that the development, as proposed with local crafts and foods, would be good for commerce in town.
"The traveling public loves places like that - it sounds like an idea that would attract people and draw them into downtown and help all local businesses," Monroe said.
Behan said the project was likely to cost between $1 million and $2 million to build, and would have 10,000 square feet of space. Both the upper story and lower story would be on ground level, as the site is sloped, he said.
John Behan, the Principal of Behan Planning & Design, has been helping local citizens in their efforts to beautify and revitalize the Chestertown hamlet.
Mary Jane Dower, chair of the Chestertown Main Street Enhancement Committee, said that Behan's Chestertown Gateway would help boost downtown commerce, as well as enterprises across Chester and Horicon.
"This development sounds wonderful - it's a big start in helping revitalize Chestertown," she said. "Any way to get visitors to go downtown will be great."