Schenectady County

SCCC given OK to build dorms

Construction on a $20 million student housing project for Schenectady County Community College shoul
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Construction on a $20 million student housing project for Schenectady County Community College should begin next month after officials received final city approvals on Wednesday.

BBL Construction Services and Columbia Development Company are constructing a 105,000-square-foot, 313-room facility on Railroad Avenue next to the Armory.

Jay Hopeck of BBL said construction will be completed by August 2009. The five-story facility will have a mix of unit sizes. Most will be four-bedroom apartments, but there will be some one-bedroom resident adviser suites and some six-bedroom units.

The Schenectady Planning Commission approved the site plan Wednesday.

The commission’s biggest concern was students crossing busy Washington Avenue to get to the college on the other side of the street. College officials have started the process to obtain funding for a pedestrian bridge that would cross over Washington Avenue. That project is expected to cost about $1.5 million.

Hopeck said there would be a designated pedestrian crosswalk to travel across Water Street, the street that runs between Washington Avenue and Railroad Street. From there, students would cross Washington.

“It isn’t that far of a walk,” Hopeck said. “Hopefully, the kids will take the safe route instead of trying to cut across.”

He added he is hopeful the college will have obtained approval for the bridge so design work can start by the time the main building project is done. He said most students would be going to the college after the peak rush hour in the morning and leaving before the peak evening rush hour.

Commission member Matt Cuevas said the college should add signs in the housing facility itself telling them to use the designated crossing.

“Just by putting the crosswalk there is not going to direct people to do it,” he said.

The commission made the approval conditional on having the college submit a report one year after the building opens detailing how the pedestrian crossings are working and the status of the pedestrian bridge.

It is also going to work with the Department of Transportation on any signs it could put up designating the pedestrian crossing.

The Zoning Board of Appeals also approved two variances to have fewer than the required number of parking spaces on site and to allow the building’s primary entrance to be located away from Washington Avenue.

Hopeck said there will be 76 designated parking spaces for the facility. Eighteen would be on site. Twenty-eight would be on another lot owned by the college. Thirty more spaces would be on a second lot, about which the college is in negotiations with Metroplex Development Authority and the lot’s owner.

HABITAT SUBDIVISION

The zoning board also approved a request by Habitat for Humanity to subdivide one parcel at 528 Gerling St. into two. Each would be 4,742 square feet where 5,000 is the minimum requirement.

Executive Director Jeff Clark said this property has been vacant for quite some time. There is currently only a cement block and wood storage building at the site that would be taken down.

Anthony Verteramo, who owns the house at 518 Gerling St., where his son lives, said he was not against anybody trying to build a house there but he was concerned that building two houses on a small lot would be too much.

“If this takes place, I will definitely put my house up for sale,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, the board approved a request by Schenectady County Action to construct a 6-foot-high fence at 100 Bigelow Ave. This location will be the new home of a Head Start program that used to be housed at the former St. Luke’s School.

The board also approved two sign requests.

The Holiday Inn on Nott Terrace is in the process of renovating and the company had requested replacing its current 39-foot-tall sign with one that is 18 feet, 3 inches tall. However, the board was only willing to approve a sign that is 13 feet, 3 inches tall. The zoning ordinance has a limit of 7 feet tall.

Also, Siemens Power Technologies International received approval to place two signs on its building at 400 State St. The company occupies the upper two floors of the Bow Tie Cinemas building.

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