$60M awarded for development

$60M awarded for development

$60M awarded for development
$1.6M dedicated to lower State Street
BY HALEY VICCARO Gazette Reporter
At a glance
2014 Regional Economic Development Council awards funding:
The Capital Region received $60 million in state aid for economic development projects, including funding for the redevelopment of lower State Street in Schenectady.

In the fourth round of the Regional Economic Development Council awards, presented Thursday in Albany, the state’s 10 regions competed for chunks of about $750 million in state funding. The Mohawk Valley was awarded $59.6 million.

The Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority and Prime Companies received $1.2 million to transform several properties on lower State Street into apartments and retail space. Also, the city of Schenectady was awarded $400,000 to reconstruct Liberty Park.

The city of Amsterdam received $224,625 for repairs to City Hall to preserve the facade of the former Sanford mansion. Amsterdam also received $325,000 to install public art on the pedestrian bridge that will connect Bridge Street on the south side with the north side waterfront.

Amsterdam and the village of Fultonville got $600,000 each for sewer and water system improvements, and in Cobleskill, $500,000 will be used for projects in the Lark Street neighborhood.

“We’re very excited about this funding for lower State Street, coupled with $400,000 for the park,” said Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen. “This is a major step forward for the redevelopment of lower State Street. To get these two large awards both geared toward redeveloping lower State is very good.”

Prime Companies is looking to build 105 upscale apartments and 9,900 square feet of retail space at the site of the vacant Robinson lot, Olender Mattress building, BiMor Army & Navy Store and the former Silver Diner lot.

The project comes with a $20 million price tag. Metroplex originally applied for $1.3 million in funding through the awards, but received $100,000 less. The shortfall is not expected to affect development.

Gillen said after getting final approval from the city Planning Commission, the project could move forward as soon as next year.

“The site is shovel-ready, so we would like to get going next year,” he said. “This was critical funding from the state that we needed to address the soil conditions on site.”

Plans to make over Liberty Park can finally move forward thanks to $400,000 in state funding. The two-phase project will reconfigure the park into a pedestrian-friendly green space with a plaza, performance space and other attractions.

Changes to the park suggested two years ago included a gateway plaza area with a sculptural focal point, expanding the park to include Water Street and transforming the short street connecting Washington Avenue with Railroad Street into a walkway with benches.

“The current park is small and has bizarre landscaping that makes it difficult to maintain,” Gillen said. “It’s just not well designed at all. Now that we have the funding, we will look at this project more closely. It was always dependent on getting the grant.”

The project will double the size of the park and also comes with a name change. Gillen said Liberty Park, across from Schenectady County Community College, could be renamed Gateway Park, with the city’s approval.

“We basically want to create a better gateway for downtown,” he said. “That’s why we’re considering the new name. The name Liberty is also a main street downtown, so people find it confusing. But Lady Liberty will stay.”

Gillen said work on the park will add to the area’s rebuilding efforts, which include a new bus station next door and plans by Norstar Development to turn the old YMCA building across State Street into senior citizen housing.

Two other big projects in the region that received among the highest funding amounts include $1.5 million for redevelopment of the former Troy City Hall and $1 million for Finch Paper in Glens Falls to modernize its mill. The project in Troy includes construction of a mixed-use facility with a farmers market. The 180,000-squarefoot facility would feature 100 residential units, 40,000 square feet of retail space, a 100-space underground parking garage and a public plaza.

The Capital Region council, co-chaired by Albany Medical Center President James Barba and University at Albany President Robert Jones, is dividing its $60 million among 93 projects. Last year, the region was a top performer in the competition, taking home nearly $83 million for 85 projects.

“With $60 million in funding, most of our projects will be funded in one degree or another,” Barba said. “When you add the projects funded this year to those funded the first three years, we have the highest number of funded projects in the state of New York. That’s our charge — jobs and economic development. That’s what we do.”

In the Mohawk Valley, the regional council will be using its $59.6 million for 59 projects. SUNY Polytechnic Institute, formerly known as the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, received $1 million for improvements at the MarcyNano Center outside Utica.


Here’s a list of other projects that received funding in Saratoga, Schenectady and Schoharie counties:


Porous pavement into two parking lots at Roosevelt Baths Green, $212,000

Trail network at Historic Saratoga Battlefield, $98,943

Visitor center upgrades at Waterford Canal Harbor, $71,400

Engineering report on South Glens Falls’ sanitary sewer system, $30,000

Renovation of machinery and equipment at Yankee Distillers, $35,000

Sewer improvements in the village of Corinth, $600,000

Promote regional tourism as part of the First Wilderness Plan in Warren County, $410,450


Training 20 newly-hired workers at MigrateAmerica Inc. of Schenectady, $100,000

Part-time arts marketing and development associate at the New York Folklore Society, $49,500

Digital cinema projector, computer server and related hardware at Proctors, $39,000

Upgrades and repairs to the Mohawk Hudson Bike Trail, $75,000

Engineering report for possible wastewater collection system in Glenville, $30,000

Trail network connection and flood mitigation measures for Rotterdam Junction Bike Path, $150,000

Engineering report to identify inflow and infiltration areas of Highbridge Road and Vienna Street in Rotterdam, $30,000


Broadband feasibility study, $37,500

Update long-range economic development strategy plan for the county, $15,000

Examine the feasibility of a Schoharie Creek multi-use trail from North Blenheim to the village of Esperance, $149,876

Training for 22 workers at the Harva Co., $67,905

Replace outdated pump/ filter building that houses filtration equipment for the swimming pool in Nick Iorio Park in the village of Cobleskill, $159,835

Local waterfront revitalization program in the village of Middleburgh, $20,000

Create the Breadbasket Heritage Trail in Middleburgh, $15,200

Water system improvements in the village of Richmondville, $535,000

Engineering report to identify inflow and infiltration issues in the village of Sharon Springs, $30,000


This rendering shows Prime Companies’ plan to redevelop several properties on lower State Street.


The former Olender building, far left, and the Bi-Mor Army & Navy Store on State Street in Schenectady are seen on Thursday.