Schenectady County

SLOC may benefit from KeyBank move

KeyBank has found a new location downtown, which will allow it to move out of its longtime marble ho

KeyBank has found a new location downtown, which will allow it to move out of its longtime marble home near Proctors.

But the bank won’t go far — it’s moving just two blocks down the street, near the corner of Erie Boulevard.

Bank officials announced that they will take over 313-315 State St., now occupied by Regina Check Cashing Corporation and H&R Block.

KeyBank doesn’t expect to move for at least six months, but it may already have someone interested in its building at 436 State St.

The Schenectady Light Opera Company is strongly considering buying the building. No decisions have been made yet, SLOC board President Bob Farquharson said.

“It’s quite viable. It has the potential to make a beautiful theater,” he said. “There’s a plus to having so many venues within walking distance. It certainly has high potential for us.”

SLOC is looking at other sites as well. It will likely pick its new home by fall, Farquharson said. Their current home is 826 State St.

But as both SLOC and KeyBank can attest, searches sometimes drag on and on. SLOC has been looking for a new site for more than a year. Likewise, KeyBank’s search began in 2004, after bank officials sold their parking lot to the Metroplex Development Authority. The lot was used to create a site for Diamond Cinema, but the deal with that theater group fell through. Now, the site is part of the Hampton Inn property.

Initially, KeyBank officials were reluctant to sell their parking lot, and at one point, Metroplex threatened to use eminent domain to obtain it. In the end, they came to an agreement on the sale, but KeyBank officials said they would need to move their entire bank branch elsewhere.

The issue wasn’t just a lack of parking space. The building is also much larger than the usual branch. Most of KeyBank’s branches are 2,000 square feet, while the tall marble bank in the center of downtown is 15,000 square feet.

Despite its size, there was no way to offer a drive-through, something bankers said is essential in today’s world.

With the new site, KeyBank gets most of what it wanted: The office is smaller and provides parking, but there still isn’t space for a drive-through.

Instead, there will be a 24-hour ATM in a vestibule, similar to KeyBank’s current setup. Customers will use their ATM card to access the locked area.

Officials expect to begin renovations at the new site in the fall. It will take several months, and the 436 State St. bank branch will not be closed until the new branch opens. No date has been announced.

Although the new building is nowhere near as impressive as the marble edifice KeyBank uses now, the bank is making an effort to improve its new facade. Workers will remove the metal-frame sign, replacing it with a stucco frame and an awning.

Larger windows will be installed in the front and the covering on the stone columns will be removed, according to plans submitted to the Schenectady Planning Commission.

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