Conifer Realty under contract to buy former Olde Saratoga brewery

Conifer Realty of Rochester is under contract to buy the former Olde Saratoga Brewing Co. property in Saratoga Springs from Stewart’s Shops Corp.

By Robin K. Cooper  – Reporter, Albany Business Review

Apartment developer Conifer Realty is under contract to purchase the former Olde Saratoga Brewing plant in Saratoga Springs with plans to demolish the building and convert the property into affordable housing.

The Rochester real estate management company approached property owner Stewart’s Shops Corp. about purchasing the 4.25-acre site on Excelsior Avenue after a Manhattan brewer was unable to pull together financing to purchase the building and re-open it as a brewery.

“It’s a great location that is not too far from downtown and it’s close to the mall, all things we think will work well,” said Brian Donato, vice president of development at Conifer.

Stewart’s Shops has been searching for a buyer since Olde Saratoga abruptly stopped brewing and went out of business in January 2018 after its parent company, Mendocino Brewing Co. of California, ran into financial and legal problems.

The convenience store chain had leased the property to Olde Saratoga for two decades. Don Trooien, founder of 212 Brewing in Manhattan, wanted to purchase the property and run it as a brewery, but was unable to complete a deal.

“The unraveling of the brewery took quite some time,” said Chad Kiesow, Stewart’s vice president of facilities.

Conifer approached Stewart’s about purchasing the property while the building was being emptied and equipment was being auctioned off.

Conifer officials are in the early stages of developing plans to construct affordable housing on the site. The Rochester company develops, constructs and manages more than 220 apartment complexes including 15,500 apartments in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Two years ago, Conifer built the 140-apartment Blue Heron Trail development on Route 67 in Ballston. Those apartments are 100% occupied, Donato said. Monthly rents range from $833 to $1,080 for a one-bedroom. A two-bedroom costs $1,003 to $1,260 a month. And a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment costs $1,162 to $1,337 per month.

The former Olde Saratoga property is located at 131 Excelsior Ave., less than a mile from Exit 15 of the Interstate 87 Northway. Conifer would like to develop a conceptual plan and submit it to the city sometime this summer, Donato said.

“We don’t want to rush it,” he said.

The property sale is contingent upon Conifer receiving city planning approvals to redevelop the property.