Schenectady County

Center City being renovated

The Galesi Group has launched a $12 million renovation of Center City, gutting the third floor of th

Categories: Schenectady County

The Galesi Group has launched a $12 million renovation of Center City, gutting the third floor of the mammoth downtown structure and asking tenants along the Jay Street side of the building to relocate.

Galesi plans to completely rehabilitate the building and convert it into space for retail businesses, commercial and professional offices and apartments.

The Capital District YMCA is also discussing with Galesi a proposal to relocate a new city branch to Center City. Capital District YMCA President and CEO J. David Brown said he had nothing new to report about that potential.

Galesi executive David Buicko was not available for comment.

Officials would not reveal construction details, but said plans could involve demolishing a public area in front of the building and a terrace along Jay Street, creating at-grade entrances into Center City.

Galesi, which bought the building earlier this year, has notified tenants along Jay Street they need to relocate by the end of the year as the rehabilitation progresses.

Tenants include the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp., Jay Street Studios, a city police substation and Innovations, a gift shop operated by the Schenectady Museum and Suits-Bueche Planetarium.

The Metroplex Development Authority, which is working with Galesi on the project, is helping several of the tenants relocate downtown. Innovations, however, is closing for good. Museum spokeswoman Erin Breslin said, “We had a good run.”

Breslin said the museum had a hard time keeping the store open because it was staffed with volunteers. The volunteers come from the Schenectady ARC.

ARC client Elizabeth Hassel, who has volunteered at Innovations since it opened two years ago, said she enjoys working in the store. She works one day a week for four hours as part of the ARC’s Life Preparation II Program.

Anthony Lucier, an ARC direct support professional, said the clients love coming to the shop. “They do art, they interact with each other and with the customers,” he said.

He wasn’t sure what would happen to the ARC clients once Innovations closed.

James Salengo, DSIC executive director, said his agency is seeking space for four full-time employees downtown. “I look at this as an opportunity to stop and think hard about the future of our organization,” he said.

Salengo said the DSIC enjoyed its space in Center City, as it was in the “center of it all,” but he said there is other space out there.

Jay Street Studios is operated by Proctors. Proctors’ CEO Philip Morris said he knew the location was temporary. “We occupied vacant space. Now that there is new use for the space, we are looking for new space for the artists,” he said.

Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said the five artists from the studios will go to shops along Jay Street, filling up currently empty storefronts.

Gillen said the relocation of the Center City tenants is a sign of progress. “We had to do something with Center City and it’s getting done,” he said.

The Blackwatch soccer organization, which uses the inside soccer field at Center City, also will relocate after the summer, Gillen said. The rock gym will remain in Center City, he said.

The city has contributed $2.5 million from the Restore NY Communities Initiatives Program toward the $12 million project. The remainder is private financing, Gillen said.

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