Schenectady County

Ground broken for SCCC housing

With a demolished service station as a backdrop, officials broke ground Wednesday on an $11 million

With a demolished service station as a backdrop, officials broke ground Wednesday on an $11 million student housing complex for Schenectady County Community College.

United Group of Companies of Troy will build the four-story, 112,000-square-foot facility on county-owned land at 117 Washington Ave. Michael Ucellini, company president and CEO, said the project should be completed by August 2012.

The 264-bed complex will allow SCCC to increase student enrollment, foster student interaction with the community and add collegial opportunities for students, said Martha Asselin, SCCC vice president of student affairs.

College Trustee Gary Hughes said the ability to attract additional students, especially those outside the county, will provide revenue to SCCC and help stabilize tuition.

Hughes said SCCC, like other community colleges in New York, receives a “chargeback” fee from the home county of each non-Schenectady County resident who enrolls at the local college. The fee varies by county, but the total is more than $1 million annually in revenue for SCCC. Likewise, Schenectady County pays a similar fee to other community colleges for each of its residents who attend elsewhere. Chargebacks cost the county approximately $2 million annually. College officials would like to reduce the amount by developing programs that attract Schenectady County residents as students.

SCCC officials said the housing complex will help attract students to the college’s signature programs in culinary arts, aviation and music. The complex, which will be called College Suites at Washington Square, will contain amenities such as a fitness area, recreation area, game room, business center, study area and rehearsal space for music students.

United will own the complex but lease the 1.5-acre site from the Schenectady Industrial Development Agency. The IDA, in turn, is leasing the land from the county.

The land encompasses portions of the former Van Curler Hotel parking lot and a vacant service station at 101 Washington Ave., which the county bought for $140,000, with the state paying half. The service station was demolished earlier this week.

United will pay the county, through the IDA, $250,000 under a 40-year lease agreement. Also through the IDA, United will make an annual payment in lieu of taxes that starts at $26,400 and ramps up to $72,122.

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