written by Dylan McGlynn | Photos Courtesy of Ryan McHale, Orion Media Service
A look at the Milton Town Center, with the existing Town Center development to the right
and the location of a future planned expansion to the left.
The Town of Milton has been steadily growing, and the town is working to continue big plans to extend that growth.
Milton introduced a ‘Town Center’ concept in 2001 that was intended to draw in businesses to the area. The Milton Town Center, located at the intersection of Geyser Road and Rowland Street, has grown slowly since, but current plans would accelerate that growth with the introduction of new restaurants, shops, apartments, and more.
Milton director of economic planning John Olenik said the town is looking to expand its Town Center and draw in more businesses, making note of a proposal to add a new development off the current Town Center.
The proposal, brought forth by the Malta Development Company, would extend Trieble Avenue and the Town Center further north into a second development, which would contain mixed-use buildings, apartments, a community clubhouse, commercial pads, office space, and more.
Tom Samascott, president of Malta Development, detailed some of the plans, but emphasized that they are still in a conceptual stage.
“We’re going to have some commercial, office and retail on the Rowland St. side,” said Samascott. “The buildings will be commercial first floor and apartments above.”
He also said there would be several commercial pad sites, spots for drive-thru businesses, and a free-standing restaurant. The back side of the development near the Saratoga County Airport would feature additional apartments.
The plans also call for amenities such as a public pool, a fitness center, a dog park, and what Samascott described as “pocket parks,” small areas with things such as seating, firepits, or grills. Samascott said he is unsure how many apartments would be in the plans in total, and estimated the project will “easily” cost $100 million.
Olenik has been working to draw in businesses to the town, but he said some major chain businesses can be hesitant to commit to Milton because it is not located on Route 50 or the Northway, saying these areas tend to conform to demographic marketing models.
However, he emphasized that these connections are not necessary for successful businesses in Milton.
"You do not have to be on the Northway to be a successful business in the Town of Milton."
— John Olenik, Milton director of economic planning
The intersection of Route 50 and Northline Rd, the ‘Route 50 Corridor.’ Olenik said that while traffic count figures near the Town Center often do not meet expectations of major businesses, this intersection can meet such figures.
With a sizable population base in the town and its surrounding areas, many current businesses in the Town Center have done “extremely well,” Olenik said, citing the town’s location near the center of Saratoga County.
“If you look at the population area in Ballston, Malta, Saratoga Springs, and Wilton, we are surrounded by almost 100,000 people,” Olenik said. “We have the population base that can make any business that comes here successful. … As you can see, [businesses] are indicating that they’re doing very well, and are very profitable, and will only continue to grow as our population expands.”
However, he also said many potential business investors consider figures such as traffic count as criteria for a possible location, and Milton is unable to meet some of these numbers.
“We have the traffic count in the morning and the evening. It’s the afternoon traffic count that doesn’t live up to the expectations of the national chains,” said Olenik. "If you don’t have a certain traffic count, they’ll say it’s a no-go. Well, we are hoping to convince investors that our large population base located right in the heart of the County is as relevant as the traffic count marketing criteria.”
Olenik cited Hannaford, Mavis Discount Tire, Allerdice Ace Hardware, Dunkin Donuts, and Stewart’s Shops as examples. The Hannaford location in Milton opened in 2000, and was expanded in 2016 to add 8,000 additional square feet after the store, “exceeded initial performance expectations,” according to a statement from the store read by Olenik.
According to the statement from Hannaford, the Milton location is one of the chain’s top performing stores annually, Olenik said. Hannaford has 185 locations in five states.
NAPA Auto Parts also recently opened a new location in Milton, relocating from their former home in Ballston Spa. Store owner Jeff Shorr said the town’s focus on local business was a factor in their decision to move to Milton.
“We really wanted to find a town that was focused on local business, and growing local business. Milton was very agreeable to that,” said Shorr, noting he spoke to local businesses such as Hannaford and Allerdice before the move. “The Town of Milton has grown 14% over the last three years. … So it was just a nice fit for us to move into a growing community.”
Olenik also cited an engineering study undertaken by the town for the potential installation of a roundabout at the Geyser Rd and Rowland St intersection. In addition, the New York State Department of Transportation is preparing to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Rowland St and Route 29, Olenik said.
Bruce Boghosian, vice president of Boghosian Brothers, Inc., helped to develop the initial Town Center as both a developer and as Chair of Milton’s Town Center Committee. He said the Center has exceeded initial expectations, noting that the opening of Hannaford drove more business and infrastructure improvements to the area.
“I don’t know if we expected it to be as successful as it is,” said Boghosian. “I think that’s gone beyond our expectations. But it’s kind of a simple formula. You see a need, you fill the need, and it’s going to work… One thing happens, and it drives other things.”
And although the Town Center may not be able to meet certain traffic figures, Olenik also made note of the Route 50 corridor at the intersection of Northline Rd and Route 50, saying this intersection receives more traffic on average and could reach target figures of major businesses.
However, Olenik emphasized that a location in the Town Center would be more advantageous for businesses due to its proximity to people.
“So if you look into our traffic count, we can say, ‘Well, we can’t necessarily meet your numbers here, but we certainly can meet your numbers down over there,’” said Olenik. “But over here, we have an area that is populated. People can drive, or even potentially walk, to your location.”
Boghosian said the plans to expand the Town Center is “our vision for that area finally coming to fruition.” “When you think about it, it’s going to create a truly walkable community,” said Boghosian. He said the intent of the zoning guidelines initially established for the Town Center were to “help create a sense of place.”
“It’s not a downtown, necessarily, because it’s a suburban setting,” said Boghosian. “But it’s a sense of place, where you can go grab an ice cream cone and go shop, do your banking. It becomes a real place.”
The next steps for the project are a formal presentation to the Town of Milton Planning Board, Samascott said, who estimated construction will begin in roughly one year. Construction will be conducted in phases, with buildings constructed to attract businesses and residents.
Samascott also said the expansion can open up the rest of the plaza as well, creating more potential business for Hannaford and other businesses already in the Town Center.
“It’s very preliminary,” Samascott said. “The town’s been pretty receptive. Like I said, we’re working with them too.”
In addition to plans in the Town Center, the Saratoga County Airport received a $30 million grant to construct a new terminal, Olenik said. The terminal will be two stories, and is proposed to have a restaurant inside.
Olenik noted a lack of traditional diners in the area, saying a diner in the airport could be “a year-round destination point.”
“I do have some interest by some diner operators who are considering their involvement,” said Olenik. “You’re not only going to have just a diner, you’re going to have an attraction. What’s the attraction? Planes, jets, and helicopters taking off and landing.”
Olenik noted while the new terminal is confirmed, details on the potential restaurant/diner are still in progress. He also said one of his current efforts is to bring a national chicken franchise, such as Popeye’s or Chick-fil-A, to Milton, as well as a national chain restaurant.
“Again, the initial pushback was, ‘Well, what is your traffic count?’” said Olenik. “So we’re trying to put together a promotional package that’s going to show that you don’t necessarily need a specific traffic count across the time frames of the day.
“It’s the population that’s going to serve your business, and that’s what’s going on right here, right now.”