Layup drills may replace troop drills at the Schenectady Armory, as a pair of local developers on Tuesday agreed to purchase the building for $260,000 and convert it for indoor sports programs.
Cousins Jeff and Ray Legere of Legere Properties and Legere Restorations beat out two other bidders at an auction held at Schenectady City Hall by the state Office of General Services, which owns the property.
“I would have liked to have gotten it for less, but we’re pretty pleased,” Jeff Legere said. “We’re a local construction company and we’ve done a lot of restorations.”
Among their restoration projects are the former Finserve building that now houses the Ellis School of Nursing on Erie Boulevard, an old city firehouse on Wendell Avenue and the refurbishing of the Lawrence the Indian statue in the Stockade. They also recently purchased the former Grossman’s Bargain Outlet building at 1410 Erie Blvd., where they plan to open a local co-op market.
Ray Legere said there is a huge demand for an indoor sports arena in the area. “Thousands of kids every night go to different parts of the Capital Region,” he said.
The old drill space has room for six full-size volleyball courts, he added. Schenectady County Community College used to practice and play its home games at the armory before relocating to the YMCA in Center City downtown.
Jeff Legere envisions this facility hosting tournaments and attracting visitors to the city.
The facility has only 75 parking spaces. However, Ray Legere said they plan to work with SCCC to see if they would be able to use the college’s parking lot across the street during off-peak times.
The building is on the state and national registers of historic places but Ray Legere said that shouldn’t be a hindrance to their redevelopment plans because the historic designation mostly deals with what can be done to the outside of a building.
The property is currently assessed at $4.2 million. It needs a new roof, elevators, heating and cooling system and improvements to make it handicapped-accessible. There’s also the cost to heat and light the building — an estimated $110,000 annually.
However, the cousins didn’t appear to be daunted.
“It’s part of the history of Schenectady,” Ray Legere said.
They believe that the new 264-bed student housing for SCCC being constructed next door would have a positive effect on their project, although it takes away some of the visibility the armory had previously.
Ray Legere is excited about the opportunity. “We just bought a huge building for $260,000,” he said.
The armory has been vacant since summer 2008, when the New York National Guard unit there moved to a new headquarters in Latham. An auction last year was canceled for a lack of interest and the minimum bid was lowered from $395,000 to $180,000.
The bidding continued in thousand-dollar multiples as the Legeres competed with two other bidders. Dharam Singh of New York City hoped to use the building for an Indian-American cultural center that would also help distribute food to the needy. He said he believes he could have increased the bidding a little higher than his final bid of $256,000 but also had his business partner to consider. He plans to bid on the Poughkeepsie Armory next.
The third bidder, who stopped at $222,000, was Keohan Management.
Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen said the developers have a successful track record and he liked their concept.
“We look forward to working with them and their plan to bring sports in is going to bring more people downtown,” he said.
Also on Tuesday, R M & T Ltd. won the auction of a 2,500-square-foot house at 1622 Bradley St. with a bid of $57,000. The property had formerly served as a group home for Office of People with Developmental Disabilities, but was no longer needed.
Zoning Officer Steve Strichman said the building is a duplex that was converted into a group home. The property is zoned for a single-family residence so if the new owner wanted to keep it as a duplex, it would need a zoning variance.