Northway travelers enticing hotel builders

BY Molly Congdon
Gazette Reporter
CLIFTON PARK — In recent years, hotels have been sprouting up in Clifton Park like flowers.

The latest include the 104-room Hilton Garden Inn, the 108-room Residence Inn by Marriott and a 96-room Homewood Suites, which will soon be opening its doors and is currently accepting reservations for Aug. 12.

On March 23, Clifton Park Hotel Partners LLC submitted an application to the town to build a 130-room Courtyard Inn by Marriott.

If approved, it would be constructed in place of a 4,500-square-foot freestanding building in the south end of a plaza at 627 and 629 Plank Road, which also contains a 31,000-square-foot strip mall. It would be directly across the street from the 80-room Hampton Inn & Suites.

“It’s very convenient when getting on and off the Northway,” said Paul Massaroni, the owner of the property on Plank Road. “It’s literally less than a minute from the Northway in either direction.”

It is close to several other hotels but competition doesn’t worry him. “There is a need for it,” Massaroni said. “All of the hotels in the area are doing very, very well, and the occupancy rates keep going up, even with one, two, three, potentially four new hotels opening up. All of the hotels in Clifton Park are doing as good as they were doing a year before, if not a little better.”

“Regionally there is still a demand — the occupancy rates for our area are still above the national average, and the hotel developers are conscious of that and see that there is still room for absorption,” said John Scavo, town director of planning. “Hotels are very good at bringing in outside patrons who otherwise wouldn’t be within Clifton Park, so it benefits the county sales tax — every dollar spent by somebody staying in a hotel is money captured that typically otherwise wouldn’t have been spent within the county.”

Massaroni’s family has owned the property for almost 28 years.
“Some of the partners that were involved in the Residence Inn by Marriott project are involved in this project as well,” he said. “One of the people is a longtime friend and when he was in town we started talking about it casually. The conversation progressed from there and it kind of started to happen.”

The addition of major employers such as Global Foundries and Nanotech, in Malta and Albany respectively, have only helped the hotels in Clifton Park. “We have these two big conglomerates on either end of us; it keeps the business climate steady,” Massaroni said. “Clifton Park is a nice middle ground with a more relaxed feel than Albany, and there’s a lot to do here without being in the middle of a bigger city.”

Getting off the Northway at Exit 9, one is greeted by a wide assortment of restaurant options and businesses. This makes it an ideal location for hotels — their guests are able to walk almost everywhere they might want to go.

“We have a strong retail base and personal services that includes easy access to banking, restaurants that patrons look for when traveling and deciding where they want to stay,” Scavo said. “Everything is in that town center area for someone outside the area.”

If the four-story Courtyard Inn becomes a reality, occupants will be able to take a quick stroll to IHOP, Outback Steakhouse and Venezia Pizza and Pasta.

“You can have breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Massaroni said.

An increase in tourism is expected to have positive ramifications for the town.

“We are looking to highlight our heritage culture; we’ve been working with the Southern Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition to highlight some of our regional assets like the Erie Canal and some of the historic features within our community,” Scavo said. “It would benefit the local economy and from a quality-of-life standpoint for residents, there are greater opportunities with increased tourism. It promotes a place and a self-identification that Clifton Park is more than just a sign that says: ‘Welcome to Clifton Park.’ There is a history and a heritage here, and we can spread that message through the tourism industry.”

“People tend to forget that this area is in many ways a great attraction in its own right,” said Pete Bardunias, president and CEO of the Southern Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. “Most people passing through this area are heading somewhere else, and so the more we can do to snag them and let them realize that there are things to see here locally will make a big difference. In hotels, we can have literature there for them to find local venues.”

The town Planning Board will consider the proposal for the first time when it meets April 14.