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I-87 retail complex planned in Chester

CHESTER - An ambitious retail development is planned for Northway Exit 25, and area officials say it might boost tourist and commercial activity in Chestertown and Brant Lake.

John Behan, a community planner and architectural designer from Chestertown and Saratoga Springs, is planning to build a two-story retail center, called Chestertown Gateway, next to the Exit 25 southbound offramp.

The the L-shaped building is intended for a convenience store and gas station, plus a restaurant and shops to sell Adirondack foods and crafts.

The development, set on a two-acre parcel at the intersection of I-87 Northway and state Rte. 8, has received site-plan approval from the town of Chester Planning Board.

Behan said this week that if he and his wife Cynthia line up some additional investors in the project, Chestertown Gateway could be open for business as soon as summer 2012.

"We want to offer something really nice and different to prompt travelers to get off the highway - someplace nice and pleasant," Behan said. "We see a need for a unique place for businesses that's affordable, accommodating both local folks and travelers."

He said Chestertown Gateway would offer travelers' necessities and locally created products that would support various area businesses, whether it's Adirondack furniture and d cor items, locally-grown or processed foods, or quality mountain crafts.

Chestertown Gateway, he added, would add up to dozens of new jobs and bring in revenue from travelers who would not otherwise be visiting and spending money in Chester.

The building would feature Adirondack-style architectural cues, including styling details that would be reflected in the canopy overhanging four gasoline pumps. Initial renderings show a building with multiple dormers, a deck and a historic, semi-rustic appearance.

Behan added that his development was likely to boost business in downtown Chestertown by drawing motorists off the Northway - and many of them would likely venture down Rte. 8 to explore the hamlet, which has experienced a drastic decline in tourist traffic over the past several decades.

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