State OKs harbor project
The state Canal Corp. issued a work permit for the Galesi Group’s Mohawk Harbor project following the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval last week. The Canal Corp.’s approval was the final hurdle for the Rotterdam developer to start construction of a three-acre harbor as part of the $480 million transformation of the old Alco site between Erie Boulevard and the Mohawk River. The work permit, which the Canal Corp. issued to Galesi on Wednesday, is required for the developer to widen the river and do construction work within the canal. The Canal Corp. still has to issue the developer a use and occupancy permit for the boat basin, since canal water will be used to fill the basin. That permit is forthcoming and should be issued shortly, according to Canal Corp. spokesman Shane Mahar. “The work permit is for construction, and the use and occupancy permit is for long-term use of the site,” Mahar said. “The work permit is allowing them to actually do the work and move forward with construction.” HARBOR, BOAT SLIPS Galesi is planning to carve into a section of the 60-acre brownfield to create a harbor with about 50 boat slips. The river will be widened and the entire site raised between 1 and 4 feet using fill from the dredging, plus additional fill previously brought to the property. The Army Corps signed off on a permit also required for Galesi to construct the harbor last week. The decision came after an environmental analysis of the site and review of public comments regarding the development. The Mohawk Harbor project includes plans for apartments, condominiums and retail shops around the harbor, along with townhouses and office space. The property will also be home to the future Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor. Galesi is partnering with Rush Street Gaming of Chicago to build the casino and adjacent Sheraton hotel. The project was recommended for a casino license by the state Gaming Facility Location Board in December. The Gaming Commission has yet to award the license. Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton, who served as mayor of Schenectady before Gary McCarthy, touted the Mohawk Harbor project as a development that will leverage the Erie Canal to boost the local economy. “Nearly 200 years ago, the original Erie Canal transformed small cities like Schenectady into economic powerhouses across the state, and today’s modern day canal system generates over $380 million in direct tourism revenue and continues to play a vital role in their economies,” Stratton said in an email. David Buicko, COO of the Galesi Group, said work on the harbor could start as early as this spring. The harbor would be constructed first, since the buildings are designed around it, he said last week. Work is currently ongoing at the site. Galesi is planning to seek site plan approval for the Mohawk Harbor project later this month, according to Buicko. Stratton said the project is a positive development for the city of Schenectady. “Thanks to the vision and hard work of the Galesi Group and city and county leaders, the Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor will be the first destination location of its kind that is directly accessible by the canal, which in turn will positively impact the canal, Schenectady and the greater Capital Region,” Stratton said.