Schenectady County

Long vacant Niskayuna Friendly’s may soon come down

The former Friendly’s building at ShopRite Square could come down soon in favor of additional parkin

The former Friendly’s building at ShopRite Square could come down soon in favor of additional parking and a smaller building toward Nott Street East.

Town Supervisor Joe Landry said Wednesday that Inland Mortgage Capital Corporation of Chicago, known as IMCC St. James LLC., is under contract to buy the parcel of land on which the one-time restaurant sits and is expected to close on the deal soon.

The company has expressed plans to tear down a building that is now out of place in the revamped former St. James Square, Landry said. In its place, according to the plan, will be parking for businesses at the square and better flow of traffic from the ShopRite side to the Balltown Road side.

A small building would then be built along Nott Street East. Inland Mortgage is in talks with several tenants for the new building, Landry said.

The removal of the Friendly’s building could also pave the way for more leases in the main building. Officials have said the Friendly’s building has been a barrier to businesses locating there.

With the property still yet to close, no formal plans have been submitted to the town, Landry noted. Those are expected to be submitted as early as next month.

A special use permit would be needed from the town, with approvals from the Planning Board and Town Board needed before the project could go forward.

But, from what he’s heard of the plan so far, Landry said his reaction is a positive one.

“It will make [ShopRite Square] much more user-friendly and provide more visibility for some of the stores over there,” Landry said. “I’m very pleased to hear these.”

Friendly’s closed its doors in 2010. The storefront on the corner has long been vacant.

Since Friendly’s closure, the building has become an eyesore in the revamped plaza, with weeds growing tall within sight of the new ShopRite.

As the former St. James Square fell into disuse over the years, the corridor between Friendly’s and the main structure became a no man’s land of sorts, with access to it limited.

ShopRite came to the square in 2011, turning around the square’s fortunes and anchoring it with regular new shoppers.

ShopRite is also expanding by 1,200 square feet, to a total footprint of 56,200 square feet. The expansion is to serve the store’s ShopRite from Home service, which the company called “an overwhelming success.”

The square also recently added another store, TCBY, which opened near the ShopRite, toward Friendly’s.

With the addition of ShopRite, parking on that side, though, quickly became scarce, especially for the storefronts in the strip toward Friendly’s.

The Friendly’s parcel now joins Inland Mortgage’s other part of the property, the building just east of ShopRite to LT’s Grill.

Selling Friendly’s plot to Inland Mortgage is Niskayuna developer Reginald Scott. The purchase price was not available.

The piece of land is the last connection Scott has to the former St. James Square. Scott made over and expanded the square in the 1990s, but couldn’t keep it afloat, filing for bankruptcy protection in 2006.

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