Schenectady County

Schenectady adult store plans move

The adult bookstore on Erie Boulevard may soon move to a far more residential area of the city, afte

The adult bookstore on Erie Boulevard may soon move to a far more residential area of the city, after years of pressure from city officials.

The owner of Another World has submitted an application to move to 1354 Lower Broadway, the industrial section of the Bellevue neighborhood. The bookstore would be near a poultry butcher and manufacturing businesses, just off the main road.

The residential neighborhood is only a block away, and there are far more residents nearby than live near the Erie Boulevard site.

However, Bellevue resident Julia Lewis said the location may be fine. Residents haven’t had any problems with the adult business already open in the neighborhood.

“That owner seems to be a very responsible owner,” she said, noting that he has donated to charities and supported the neighborhood association. Lewis is the association president, but emphasized that she could only offer her personal opinion on the plans for Another World because the neighborhood association has not yet discussed the issue.

“But we have another one, and it hasn’t had any problems,” she said. “I feel adults are adults. If it’s a piece of property that can go on the tax roll, I don’t have a problem with it.”

The property is on the tax rolls, but might significantly increase in value if a store is opened there. It was formerly a welding company’s workshop, and has been vacant since that company moved to Amsterdam. Another World owner Rocco Palmer said he would put about $400,000 worth of renovations into the building, including a small expansion.

Lewis said the plan sounds good to her.

“I don’t have any objection to it,” she said. “Remove some blight and it’s fine with me.”

Palmer isn’t as enthusiastic about moving to Bellevue. He feels railroaded by the city, which is taking his Erie Boulevard property through eminent domain and forcing him to move.

“They want to improve the boulevard and I think they’re going to ruin it,” he said. “They just want me off the street.”

He believes they object to the nature of his business.

“They implicate that,” he said. “But you don’t see flashing lights, you don’t see pornographic pictures. You walk in, it’s as bright as Walmart. A lot of people didn’t even know what it was, until they brought it up.”

Brian U. Stratton began the effort to get Another World off the city’s main traffic corridor even before he was first elected mayor, in 2003. Removing the business was one of his campaign promises.

Eight years later, that promise is finally coming true — with the power of eminent domain. The city is forcing Another World to move as it redevelops the street into a more pedestrian-friendly boulevard. City officials said the business had to be demolished to widen a side road that might be used by tractor-trailers.

Numerous business owners on the boulevard opposed the plan, some saying it was clearly designed to get rid of a business that sells legal sex products.

Palmer argued that he has five full-time staff, pays property taxes and $40,000 a year in sales taxes, and thus should be considered a valuable business.

“And you can buy this stuff on the Internet. You can buy it at the mall now. I don’t understand this,” he said.

A city negotiator has offered $330,000 to Palmer for his building, but Palmer maintains it’s worth $600,000. He is arguing that he should, at the very least, be paid the $400,000 he says it will cost him to renovate the former welding company’s building.

Until negotiations are concluded, Palmer won’t begin work at the Broadway location. That means work to rebuild Erie Boulevard will also be delayed.

Even after the two sides agree to a price, there may be further delays. Palmer doesn’t want to close his store until the Broadway store is ready to open. The city’s negotiator has said he must be out of his building by Dec. 31.

“How are we going to build it by Dec. 31? We can’t do it. We’d have to lay people off,” Palmer said.

Acting Mayor Gary McCarthy would not comment on whether he still supports Stratton’s plan, although he voted in favor of it as a member of the City Council.

He said he can’t offer to eliminate the side-street portion of the plan, which would allow Another World to stay. The negotiations are bound by strict rules for eminent domain in federally funded projects.

“I cannot negotiate or say anything one way or the other,” he said.

But he wants the city to come to an agreement quickly so that work on the boulevard can begin.

“We want to get that wrapped up,” he said.

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