UTICA — Saranac Thursdays are a summer tradition in Utica. But this year there's a change that will affect those who drive to the weekly event.
The large parking lot right across from the F.X. Matt brewery will no longer be open to the public due to a redevelopment project in the former Globe Mills complex.
Instead of parking in that lot — which generally held more than 200 vehicles — visitors to Saranac Thursdays and Varick Street will have to find street parking or use one of the other lots in the vicinity.
“With all the activity and the new North-South Arterial, there’s ample parking that has been assembled, but it’s different,” said Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri. “So it’s going to take people a little more understanding to realize that they’re not going to walk across the street like they’re used to.”
Indianapolis-based KCG Development is redeveloping the former Globe Mills complex at 811-827 Court St. into loft apartments and commercial spaces. The developer is currently addressing contaminants found at the approximately 4.9-acre site.
KCG Vice President of Development Matt Gilhooly said the project, which is expected to be finished by late 2020, will yield about 149 apartments that will be affordable and geared toward families and the underserved income bracket in the city.
Even though 200 spots were lost when the Globe Mills lot was closed off in April, Gilhooly said they are going to accommodate space needed for the Boilermaker. But they couldn’t keep it open for every event.
“We understand that the general public has become accustomed to using that parking lot as kind of a free-for-all,” he said. “But if we were going to open it up for Saranac Thursdays, I know folks also use it for the weekends and going to bars on Varick Street. So it was kind of tough to draw the line on where and how much we could help and at the same time trying to keep the overall duration that we’re under construction ... as short as possible.”
Where to park instead
Because the lot has closed, the public will have to adjust and walk a little more, Palmieri said.
“It’s changing, the parking accommodations,” he said. “Anytime you have change, it’s going to take people a little bit more to be in that comfort zone. … This is a walking community at this point. We’re going to find people walking in the downtown area to Varick Street to Bagg's Square once the weather is conducive to that. You could always park a vehicle at one of our parking garages and then take an Uber to wherever you want to go. It’s a good change, but it is a change that people have to get used to.”
In addition to street parking, there’s public parking where the old Nice 'N' Easy was at 501 Court St., near the Arterial and the new Stewart’s gas station. Those who park there will have to walk across Court Street and down to Varick Street.
Another spot that is open to the public is a lot behind Compassion Coalition on Columbia Street.
There is also parking on the Court Street side of the Brodock Press parking lot, but only the spots lined up with the road are open to the public, Palmieri said.
Among all of those lots, there’s roughly 150 spots people can use, he said.
Once the county builds the parking garage to go along with the new downtown hospital, there also will be parking there, Palmieri said.
For Saranac Thursdays, F.X. Matt Brewing Co. will have about 45 spots open in their shipping and receiving lot, which is where the Boilermaker post-race party is held every year, said Tourism Operations Manager Cliff Montanye. He said those spots are not an addition this year, because that lot is open during the weekly event each year, but it is an option.
There were about 3,200 people at the first Saranac Thursdays event last year, and there are additional parking restrictions during the Boilermaker, but people are still accommodated, he added.
While it’s been a complication, Montanye said the brewery is happy to see development in the neighborhood and they’re sure everyone will be able to come and enjoy themselves.
“We understand that the lack of parking is an inconvenience, but we’ve been really blessed by the ownership of that building for so long,” he said. “They’ve allowed us to use the parking lot and the only thing they’ve asked from us is that we provide security and maintenance. Now that it’s turning into development, we can’t look down on development or be negative about development. It certainly doesn’t work in our favor with regard to parking, but we can’t stand in the way of progress or be negative about it. So we’re happy that the area is continuing to grow.”
Contact reporter Samantha Madison at 315-792-5015 or follow her on Twitter (@OD_Madison).