Metroplex Board Approves Five Projects on Eastern Avenue
The Board of Directors of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority met today and approved five projects on Eastern Avenue in the City of Schenectady. Metroplex will purchase and demolish three blighted buildings on Eastern Avenue and renovate two other buildings in this key commercial corridor that links downtown Schenectady with Upper Union Street and Niskayuna.
Anthony Jasenski, Chairman of the Schenectady County Legislature, said, “These five projects will be a major step forward for Eastern Avenue and shows what can be accomplished by working together. Neighborhood revitalization is a top priority for me and the Legislature, and by working together with the City, Metroplex, and our new Land Bank, we will improve our housing stock and expand development that will benefit all Schenectady County residents.”
Mayor Gary McCarthy said, “We are pleased to partner with the County, Metroplex and the Land Bank to continue our successful neighborhood redevelopment efforts. Today’s action by the Metroplex Board is a major boost for Eastern Avenue.”
County Legislator Bob Hoffman who Chairs the Land Bank said, “The Land Bank is pleased to work with Metroplex on five great projects that will help Eastern Avenue and we are working on more projects to keep the momentum going.” Hoffman also Chairs the County Legislature’s Committee on Neighborhood Revitalization and Housing.
Metroplex Chair Ray Gillen said, “These five projects will help create momentum on an important commercial corridor leading to downtown Schenectady. Just as we worked cooperatively with the City and County to revitalize and invest in Union Street, we are pleased to join in this effort with the Land Bank to improve Eastern Avenue.”
The Metroplex Board approved the purchase of 722 Eastern Avenue which is located next to Schaffer Heights, a ten-story apartment and office complex on the corner of Nott Terrace and Eastern Avenue. The owners of Schaffer Heights received approval from Schenectady County’s Capital Resource Corporation (CRC) last week to invest $1.3 million in the building as part of a larger $10.5 million refinancing being facilitated by the CRC.
The building at 722 Eastern Avenue is vacant and blighted. The owner has agreed to sell the building to Metroplex for $1. Metroplex will pay outstanding taxes on the building worth about $4,000 after it takes possession of the property and then it will demolish the three-story structure. Metroplex will donate the site to the Land Bank for future development.
Schenectady’s Land Bank is gearing up operations after being awarded a $150,000 grant by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman late last year.
Metroplex also approved the purchase of 803 Eastern Avenue, a long-vacant building that once housed Kilgore’s Tavern. Metroplex will purchase the property from American Tax Funding for $5,000 and pay back taxes of $5,000 before demolishing the building. After demolition, Metroplex will donate the site to the Land Bank.
Metroplex will also purchase the outstanding tax lien on 868 Eastern Avenue, the former Latimer’s Tavern, another long vacant building in this area. The tax lien will be purchased for $3,000. The City will then complete foreclosure on the building in March and Metroplex will fund demolition and then provide the site to the Land Bank. The City also plans to provide 866 Eastern, the site adjoining Latimer’s, to the Land Bank creating a large parcel that can be used for future development or as green space as the parcels are located next to Vale Park. The Land Bank is currently under contract to buy a third adjoining parcel at 870 Eastern.
Metroplex will competitively bid the demolition of 722, 803 and 868 Eastern as one bid package to gain efficiencies.
The Board also approved a façade grant of $60,000 to upgrade two buildings located at 827 and 831 Eastern Avenue. The buildings house the offices and warehouse of Arket Electric & Generator, a leading electrical contractor that provides residential and commercial services to the building and construction industry in the Capital Region.
Both buildings will see a major upgrade get underway this year adding to the momentum on Eastern Avenue.
Michael Arket, President of Arket Electric & Generator said, “Our Company is pleased to work with Metroplex to improve our two buildings. We are also very excited about the other improvements planned for the Eastern Avenue community.”
Façade improvements are currently underway at 813-815 Eastern Avenue, a formerly vacant building that is being turned into the offices of a small machine shop.
Also on Eastern Avenue, Metroplex and the Land Bank are talking to other property owners about improvements to their property including the property at 839 Eastern, which is in foreclosure.
Gillen said, “We have asked the bank that is foreclosing on the property to consider donation of the property to the Land Bank or sale at a nominal price so this building can be added to the list of properties where improvements are planned or underway.”
Other property on this corridor targeted for attention include the former Copper Keg at 846 Eastern, the former Ras Furniture store at 823 Eastern and an adjoining building at 821 Eastern.
By its governing statute, Metroplex must focus on commercial and multi-family properties and not one or two family homes. The properties on Eastern targeted for Metroplex support are all commercial buildings. The Land Bank can work with one and two family homes which is why the two organizations are a good team for working in commercial corridors like Eastern Avenu