Schenectady County

Schenectady Armory set for state auction Tuesday

Ex-Albany Patroons General Manager Jim Coyne and former gym owner James Commarto were among those

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Ex-Albany Patroons General Manager Jim Coyne and former gym owner James Commarto were among those who toured the Schenectady Armory Friday, which is going up for auction next week.

Coyne said he probably will not make a bid, but can provide his services to the facility’s new owner. He served as general manager of the Albany Armory before being relieved of his duties in July.

“I took the summer off and now I’m looking to get back into an active status again,” he said. “The Schenectady Armory looked like something of interest.”

The state Office of General Services is auctioning the three-story, 65,000-square-foot armory at 125 Washington Ave. on Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Schenectady County Community College. The minimum bid is $500,000.

Coyne declined to say what he thinks should be done with the armory. “I’ve got a lot of ideas. I’m basically sharing them with any potential investor who is interested,” he said.

He said that the new owner of the armory will be in a better situation than he was because the Albany facility needed about $6 million worth of work, including a new roof and new floors. The Schenectady Armory is 50 years younger and with fewer capital needs, according to Coyne. The structure was used for practices and games of the SCCC basketball team before the state decommissioned it.

Coyne had led the effort to bring the Albany Patroons minor league basketball team back to the area after a 14-year hiatus. It played at the Albany Armory beginning in 2006 until earlier this year when the Continental Basketball Association cut short the 2008-09 season and canceled the 2009-2010 season because of a difficulty in finding teams.

Coyne said fan attendance was low.

“People just didn’t come out for the basketball, because of the economy I guess. It’s hard to recreate the past,” he said. The Patroons glory days were in the mid- to late 1980s when it welcomed an average of about 2,000 fans a game.

The armory also has been hosting concerts and other events.

Coyne served about four years in prison after being convicted on bribery, extortion and mail fraud charges related to the construction of the current Times Union Center.

COMMARTO VIEW

Commarto, who used to own James’ Ringside Gym, said he thinks the Schenectady Armory would be a good location for a sports arena.

“We don’t have a big building to hold any kind of activity in Schenectady,” he said. “This would be a good spot. You could have all kinds of sporting events, car shows.”

Commarto also owns the Quiznos Sub building on Erie Boulevard. He had owned more than 10 buildings in the city at one time but sold them to the Metroplex Development Authority, including his old gym at 451 State St., which is now home to Bombers Burrito Bar.

About three dozen people have attended four open houses at the Schenectady Armory, according to Chuck Sheifer, chief of the OGS bureau of land management.

The building dates back to 1936 and was used by the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs until late 2008.

“The building is in great shape for a building this age,” Sheifer said.

It features a large gymnasium with space for two basketball courts. There are also about 75 parking spaces, according to John Bouchard, real estate specialist for OGS.

John Cutsumpas, a partner Lothrop Associates Architects of Valhalla, N.Y., also toured the facility Friday. He would only say he was checking out the building. He said he did work on the Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City including installing a new elevator.

Sheifer said developers have found new uses for armories across the state.

“People have mostly turned them into bed and breakfasts or law offices or medical offices or recreational facilities of some kind,” he said.

The auction will be held at SCCC in Room 101 of the Stockade Building and registration starts at 10:30 a.m. Interested bidders must show up with a certified check for $50,000 to participate. The winning bidder must come up with 10 percent of the price within 10 business days and the balance within 120 days.

For more information, visit the Web site on the property at www.ogs.state.ny.us/realEstate/sales/Schenectady.html.

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