Schenectady County

State Street project back on track

Frustration, repeated delays and growing criticism have greeted efforts to rehabilitate 411 State St

Frustration, repeated delays and growing criticism have greeted efforts to rehabilitate 411 State St. and convert it into a nightclub and site for retail and professional offices.

Relief may now be added to the list.

The project is back on track, with workers from Hoosick Valley Contractors putting finishing touches on the four-story structure, said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Metroplex Development Authority. They have been working there for more than a week, he said.

Building owner Stephen J. Waite has obtained approximately $400,000 to complete the project, launched in 2005, and has resolved various liens filed against him, Gillen said.

Waite will install a fire alarm system this week and will begin finishing work on the Big House Underground, a night club that will occupy the basement. Waite expects to obtain a temporary certificate of occupancy soon, allowing him to occupy the top floor of the building with his law offices by Aug. 1, Gillen said.

“This has been a difficult project for Metroplex and the owner of 411 State St. Much of the renovation work is now complete. We regret the delay; 411 State St. must be done right, and we have continued to work with Mr. Waite to get the job done,” Gillen said.

Once the $3 million project is completed, Gillen said, it will generate $60,000 in property taxes annually. He would not say when the rest of the building will open. Waite stopped providing opening dates after a series of planned openings failed to occur. At one point, he stopped speaking to the media after being subjected to critical stories on the project.

skeptic’s view

The delays also prompted sharp attacks from county Legislator Joseph Suhrada, R-Rotterdam. On Thursday, Suhrada said of the latest announcement: “I hate to be skeptical, but I don’t know if I can believe anything coming out of the Democratic Metroplex releases anymore. But I do wish the project would be a success so the taxpayers can get a payback someday.”

In a statement Thursday, Waite said the old building — in recent memory a Dollar Store — required more work than originally anticipated.

“This caused unexpected delays and began to stretch our resources. Those issues have now been resolved, and the resources needed to complete the project are now available to us,” he said.

To date, Waite has invested more than $1 million in private and personal financing into the total rehabilitation of the 100-year-old building. Metroplex provided him with a $1 million, 15-year loan, a $250,000 facade grant, $50,000 to remove asbestos from the structure and a $100,000 loan toward a tax payment under the Empire Zone plan.

Waite did not seek additional financing from Metroplex to complete the work, Gillen said.

Gillen said “rehab is very tough. When we build new … work moves along very nicely.”

He said some of the buildings downtown were neglected for so long that they need a tremendous amount of work to bring up to code.

He added that construction pricing increased so rapidly that “it is not surprising that on one project we had a developer both go over budget due to condition of the building and run short on funds due to increasing scope and pricing.”

Gillen said 411 State St. is “more than just a club.” The building is just less than half the size of the Hampton Hotel, with 26,000 square feet; it required an elevator, new bathrooms and complete heating, ventilation, mechanical and plumbing systems as well as a new roof.

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