Developer eyes a ‘natural’ step – Roth has plans for old Honda site

Developer eyes a ‘natural’ step – Roth has plans for old Honda site

Date: Jun 2, 2015; Section: Local News; Page: C1


Developer eyes a ‘natural’ step

Roth has plans for old Honda site

BY BETHANY BUMP Gazette Reporter

Reach Gazette reporter Bethany Bump at 395-3107, or @BethanyBump on Twitter.

When people talk about Schenectady’s revitalized State Street, what do you picture?

Maybe you picture the new restaurants and luxury apartments around Proctors, or MVP’s distinct six-story headquarters near the corner of Nott Terrace, or all the new construction headed toward lower State Street? In all likelihood, you probably don’t picture the stretch of State Street past Nott Terrace, the one that heads up the hill toward Brandywine Avenue.

That, however, is exactly what John Roth is hoping to change. The developer behind much of lower Broadway’s redevelopment is hoping to build off new projects in the city’s Hamilton Hill and Vale neighborhoods to extend revitalization up State Street to an area that could use some sprucing up.

“If you look at what’s taking place with the casino and with Erie Boulevard and with the stuff happening on lower State Street all the way up to MVP, this is the next natural progression,” Roth said.

He’s starting with a project at the old Mohawk Honda space at 740 State St. Roth recently bought the property, which came with a 19,000-square-foot building and a parking lot, with plans to transform it into office and/or retail space. At purchase, the space was in rough shape.

“The roof was leaking,” he said. “A lot of the structure was deteriorated and falling apart. A good portion of the windows were cracked or broken out. In the rear section of the building, the doors were all rotting and nonfunctioning. There were a lot of structural cracks in the building that we’re going to repair, and the basement was pretty wet. The floors were unsafe. A section of the floor had collapsed and fallen into the basement.”

Roth’s plan is to demolish half the structure — about 9,000-square-feet worth that appeared to be additions tacked on over the years. The demolition will make more room for parking in the back of the lot near Albany Street, and the remaining space will be renovated into flex space suitable for light industry, office or retail space.

He’s marketing the space now, he said, and expects it to be ready by this fall. Overall, the investment will be somewhere between $500,000 and $750,000, he said.

“It really is going to be a cool-looking building when I’m done,” Roth said. “It has plenty of parking with it, too, which is pretty rare when you get into a city environment like this.”

And he doesn’t want to stop there. He’s also considering another project in the same vicinity, but declined to divulge any details until the plans are finalized.

“I’ve been approached by other landowners up here that want to sell their businesses and properties to me,” he said. “But I want to develop what I currently have and get some momentum going first.”

The stretch of State Street Roth is eyeing is the target of several other new developments. An 8,300-square-foot Family Dollar store will be built next to the future site of a new Schenectady County library branch, where a flea market once stood at 948-954 State St. The projects are designed to boost revitalization in the city’s Hamilton Hill and Vale neighborhoods.

“You are starting to see some private reinvestment with some public help in this area,” Roth said. “These are slow changes, but I feel like this corridor needs some attention and is progressing in the right direction.”



Above: John Roth, CEO of Plank Construction, looks over work being done at 740 State St. in Schenectady on Monday. The site once housed Mohawk Honda. Top: A look at the front of the building.