Rapid-Fire, Consultant Lays Out
Plans For Reborn Market Street
By JIM KEVLIN • for www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Rapid-fire, “food-hub superstar” Karen Karp this morning presented a full menu of new ideas for the “Food & Beverage Innovation District” planned along Oneonta’s Market Street:
- Renovate the downtown parking deck to include shops and maybe even apartments.
- Collaborate with SUNY Oneonta’s Sodexo catering service on a restaurant and food-service management training center in a “food hub” in the former Ford dealership at Chestnut and Market streets.
- Create an Ommegang “off-site research and development brewery” at the same site. (And/or a “modest-size place for contract brewing,” 15-20 barrels at a time, for the Garrattsville-based Butternut Beer & Ale brewery.
- Redo asphalt-heavy Market Street into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard, with shade trees, grass and benches suitable for “a festival site,” outdoor cafés and other uses.
- Install a restaurant-supply hub in the former Sears building at South Main and Market, perhaps a satellite of the Restaurant Depot in Albany, shortening a shopping trip that now can take restaurateur all day.
- Open an “intermediate drop-off point,” where farmers could bring produce to be picked up by Lucky Dog of Hamden, Delaware County, which would then spirit fresh corn and cauliflower to New York City markets.
- Design multiple “connections back to Main Street,” to ensure the whole downtown benefits from the new concept.
These ideas and many more weren’t dreamed up by Karp’s staff, she said, but grew out of a series of meetings with local restaurateurs, brewers, farmers, local academe, Fox Hospital CEO Jeff Joyner and others to assess their needs. “These are the exact things that people told us they want,” the consultant said.
Karp was contracted by Otsego Now in January to develop a long-discussed food-hub plan in time for the end-of-June deadline for the next round of CFA applications, (the vehicle for accessing state funding through regional economic-development districts. CFA stands for comprehensive funding application; Oneonta and Otsego County are in the Mohawk Valley EDC, based in Utica.)
These new ideas would join others previously discussed, like a boutique hotel on the vacant land between Foothills Performing Arts Center and Stella Luna, and the idea that the Italian restaurant might be remade on a crafts-food-and-beverage theme, tap-room style. Two or three floors of market-rate apartments above the food hub would help create demand.
Karp and Lisa Nagle, principal in Elan Planning, Saratoga, who have been working with Otsego Now (the former IDA), today were reporting to the board on the fifth floor of 189 Main. “Phase two” now begins, Nagle said: developing a detailed site plan, an architectural concept, engineering, economic-development and new-jobs data, cost estimates that the CFA application will require.
Delaware Engineering, City Hall’s consulting engineer, and an architectural firm will join Karp and Elan in this final push in the $165,000 planning process, (paid for mostly with a $150,000 state grant.)
The Otsego Now board accepted the report with enthusiasm. Mayor Gary Herzig, who was sitting in, summed it up: “Who wouldn’t want to be mayor of a city with this kind of vision and potential.”