Schenectady County

AAA to remain in downtown Schenectady through deal with Metroplex

After considering locations in 10 counties, AAA Northway decided to keep its corporate headquarters

After considering locations in 10 counties, AAA Northway decided to keep its corporate headquarters in downtown Schenectady, where it has had a presence for more than a century.

The Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority approved the plan at its Wednesday board meeting and announced it would purchase the company’s existing building at Railroad Street to further its goal for expanded development in the lower State Street area.

AAA Northway will relocate to the third floor of the Center City Building across from Proctors on State Street in the spring.

It has been located in downtown Schenectady since 1907, so the move will retain 45 jobs in the city and create five new jobs due to what company President and CEO James Phelps said was inevitable expansion.

Its office on Railroad Street was damaged by the flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, which forced the company to begin looking for alternate space.

“Growth of AAA Northway’s membership base and expanding product offering prompted us to begin planning for relocation of our headquarters due to the need for more office space,” Phelps said. “Flood damage sustained this summer simply accelerated our plans.”

The company, which serves 146,000 members in upstate New York with various products, including 24-hour, seven-day-a-week emergency road service, will move its executive offices and member call center to the Center City space. Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said the 200,000-square-foot office complex is an ideal location for the company.

“It’s brand new, it’s beautiful, it’s class A office space,” he said, “so it’s a nice, modern, new place for them. I know for certain they were looking in multiple counties for 10- to 11,000 square feet with parking and amenities, so they could have gone anywhere. We worked with them because we didn’t want to lose them.”

As part of an incentive to stay in Schenectady, Metroplex approved an $84,000 grant Wednesday to help the company with the cost of relocating to the 11,000 square feet it will lease at Center City.

The company also plans to lease 50 parking spaces from Metroplex, which will in turn provide Metroplex with a recurring revenue stream.

“Our project, if done correctly, will pay back in many ways,” said Gillen.

“The $84K we are giving in grants we will recover fairly quickly from the parking fees. So as we move these people downtown, we create more parking revenue for ourselves. Its corporate headquarters is just something we did not want to lose.”

Metroplex will pay $138,000 toward the $175,000 purchase price of the existing Railroad Street building and one acre of land at 112-114 Railroad St. and 10 State St. Gillen said it’s a good price for Metroplex, since it doesn’t plan to “just sit on the building.” Instead, it wants to incorporate the site into its redevelopment plans for lower State Street, which include the new Gateway Plaza.

In addition, next door to the site will be a new $11 million student housing complex for Schenectady County Community College students, currently under construction by United Development.

“This is where we need to drive development in our downtown,” Gillen said at Wednesday’s board meeting. “The student housing project is a game changer down there, and this is a parcel of land right next to that, that could easily be an expansion site for them.”

AAA Northway has a travel center at 1626 Union St., which will remain open.

The company also provides its members with homeowner and automobile insurance, auto repair, complete travel planning and member-only discounts.

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