Armory vision nears completion

T he vision Gregory Gross has conceived for the armory is coming to fruition.

Gross purchased the historic building, which was home to the local National Guard unit for more than a century, at a public auction last September for $165,000 and is in the process of transforming it into a fitness center, catering space, and venue for events.

Gross said work continues to progress and he expects the facility to open next month.

“The building has great exposure and it’s a great catering space for events,” Gross said.

He said he has already booked several events, including a pair of weddings, and has been having discussion with various groups that may want to hold functions inside the building.

Crews have been working in the building since the beginning of the year and have completed some fairly substantial renovations.

The hardwood floors on the second story of the building have been refinished, a restroom facility just inside the main entrance is in the process of being installed, as is an office directly across the hall.

The wooden lockers above the basketball court and drill shed have been relocated to the basement, opening up views from the mezzanine, and contractors were busy last week constructing the frame for what will eventually be a large marble-top bar on the first floor. Gross said that area will either have a bistro feel with several round tables, or a Bavarian motif.

The biggest changes however, have come in the basement.

The mold has been removed and a coat of white paint has been applied to all the walls. Carpeting has been laid in the former cafeteria and two adjacent rooms, one of which will house the lockers and fitness equipment, which have already been ordered, Gross said.

Other plans include converting several rooms on the second floor into living quarters, and Gross would like to install some kind of water feature, but the initial estimates for an indoor pool have been prohibitive. He also plans to remove the chain link fence, repair the parking area in the rear of the building and install saunas.

The space will play host to concerts and live sporting events, such as wrestling and boxing, Gross said.

When complete, the facility will complement the Whitehall Field Club, a six-hole link style golf course located on 67 acres alongside the Mettawee River on Gray Lane.

“The two properties are very unique. There’s nothing like them in the area. There are very few courses on the river,” said Gross.

“There should be huge crossover. The idea is to offer reciprocal privileges.”

Besides golf, the field club will feature skeet and trap shooting platforms and Gross hopes to install grass tennis courts and a small boathouse that would allow members to take kayaks, canoes, and sculls down the river and on to the canal. He has also explored the idea of building riverfront lodging, but has decided that’s something he may phase in if he’s able to sell enough memberships.

The cost of a membership will vary, but will include a one-time initiation fee followed by annual dues.

“We’ll see how much enthusiasm there is for recreation in this area,” Gross said.

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