By Maureen Werther
When local attorney Tom West and his wife, Renee, began looking for investment properties in the city, their first thought was to buy a two-family house.
But, when their son, Andrew, came to them with an idea for bringing 9 Miles East Farm products and menu offerings into the city proper, their focus turned to a local market that has been a mainstay on Saratoga’s east side since the 1870s.
The small parcel of land on the corner of Lake Avenue and Warren Street has been home to one kind of market or another since 1873, when Pepper’s Market and Deli first opened for business. In 2012, the market became home to Moby Rick’s Seafood, a destination for fresh fish and accompanying delicacies straight from the wharfs of Boston and Long Island.
Rick Lofstad Jr., owner of Moby Rick’s, had been looking for ways to reinvigorate his market. Meanwhile, 9 Miles East Farm Pizza owners, Gordon and Mary Sacks, had also been toying with new strategies for expanding their farm-to-table enterprise in Schuylerville.
When owner Robert Pringle, decided to sell the Lake Avenue property, it set up a “perfect storm” for the Wests, Lofstad and Sacks to transform the property into a combined farm-to-market and net-to-market destination.
“We signed on the property the first day we saw it,” said West, whose law firm, The West Firm PLLC on Broadway, focuses on environmental law, litigation and transactional issues.
“This was a spur-of-the-moment enterprise,” he said.
The proposal calls for a revitalization of the property, which they are calling Pepper’s Corner. They envision it as a “Nantucket-style” venue, with an open and airy feel and vaulted ceilings. One side of the new building will be home to Moby Rick’s and the other will be occupied by 9 Miles East.
The proposed building will be less than 2,000 square feet, with roughly half that space allocated to each business and having an open space in between. The seating code allows for a total of 20 seats, with half that number allowed outside. The indoor seating will include some informal stand-up tables as well as sit-down seating.
The Wests had significant input into the design and look of the building. They are working with Vilardo Architecture of Ticonderoga on the project.
The new building will have vaulted ceilings, allowing for natural sunlight indoors and making the building “dark sky” compliant, in other words, there will be no intrusive artificial lighting that could be a potential neighborhood nuisance, according to the plans.
The new structure will have a full basement and a re-designed and modernized kitchens. Further improvements include new ventilation hoods, a new ice machine and a relocation of the sidewalk onto the property with tree plantings to soften the look of the area.
West also plans the use of “rain gardens,” a relatively new buzz term for treating storm water prior to allowing it to soak into the ground.
“We are trying to do everything right,” he said.
West is hoping to receive approval from the city in the next few months. In the interim, he and his wife are exploring Timberpeg, a prefabricated post and beam construction company based in New Hampshire, as an option. He said they will be using local contractors for the site work, foundation and construction of the building.
Their goal is to be open for business sometime in 2018.
The Wests are the only investors involved in the project. Moby Rick’s and 9 Miles East Farm Pizza will be tenants.
The project website is www.pepperscorner.com.