Restaurant proposal withdrawn, new interest expressed
By Michael Turton
Garrison Properties LLC has backed away from a proposal to develop the former Guinan’s Pub and Country Store, located at Garrison’s Landing, into a restaurant and two apartments, leaving the future of the building up in the air. Del Karlen, president of Garrison Station Plaza Inc. (GSP), owner of the building, said he was notified of the withdrawal of the proposal in early February. No reason was given for the change.
The building was home to Guinan’s Pub for 50 years and was renowned as a gathering place for local residents. Morning commuters bought their coffee and newspaper there, during the day the deli served up sandwiches and sold basic necessities, and in the evening, the pub was where locals met for a beer, conversation and the occasional game of darts. For decades it hosted Irish Nights on the first Thursday after each full moon, attracting musicians and visitors from well beyond the local area. To many, it was an unofficial community center. It closed in 2008.
As GSP began looking at options for use of the building, there was an emotional outcry from many residents who wanted to see it again be a public meeting place — as a café or other similar enterprise. Such a use would have required an expensive retrofitting of the historic building to bring it up to code. The high cost of the sewage and wastewater treatment component in particular was an expense that GSP was not enthusiastic about absorbing. A fundraising campaign spearheaded by Mary Ellen Yanitelli, a resident at Garrison’s Landing, failed to generate enough money to assist with defraying that cost. In 2010, the building’s owners received approval from the Philipstown Planning Board to convert the main floor to offices and the upper floor to two apartments.
To the delight of many, Garrison Properties, which owns The Garrison and the Highlands Country Club, then stepped in with its proposal to establish a restaurant and two apartments in the building. With Planning Board approval and detailed plans in hand, by late 2012 it seemed certain that construction of the restaurant would begin this year — until the proposal was withdrawn in February.
“We’ve tried really hard to accommodate what the community would like to see there,” Karlen said. “We’ve tried for five years. It’s just been hard to get someone (with the resources) to do it.”
Karlen said there is renewed interest in the property but declined to identify the proponents. He said two proposals have been discussed — one, a small inn and restaurant, and the other, a café.
GSP appeared before the Philipstown Planning Board on March 21 to discuss the potential new proposals and to determine if the previously approved use of the building as offices and apartments is still acceptable. The board asked that more detailed information be presented at a future meeting.
Photos by M. Turton