Automated Dynamics is preparing to move from the former Alco site, a decision that may drive the manufacturing company out of Schenectady.
President Robert Langone said he is disappointed that the company has to move from its home and is searching for new locations in Schenectady, but also elsewhere in the Capital Region and even outside New York.
“Ideally we want to be on a site that best accommodates our existing needs and our growth needs and minimizes the distance of the move from where we are now,” he said. “To go across the driveway wouldn’t be an easy move. Just moving out of this building and into another — whether it’s next door or on the other side of the country — is going to be really hard. But it’s required for the good of the community, I understand that. It’s unfortunate for us, but I understand.”
The catalyst for the company’s move is the Galesi Group’s $150 million development of the former Alco site into Mohawk Harbor. The project will transform the 60-acre brownfield into a housing community, with a possible casino, next to the Mohawk River.
Automated Dynamics sits next to the future entrance of Mohawk Harbor at 407 Front St. As the company’s landlord, Galesi is working with Automated Dynamics to find another space before the 55,000-square-foot building is eventually demolished as construction plows forward.
“Galesi has not taken any options off the table, so there are options,” Langone said. “Somewhere else on the site is an option, although I don’t think it makes the most sense. If Automated Dynamics went to Galesi and said we need to stay on this site, I believe they would say OK, to be completely fair.”
But that option is unlikely, Langone said. It’s unclear when Automated Dynamics would have to move, but Langone stressed that he’s not in a hurry to leave and Galesi is not pushing the company out.
“I have to consider all of the options and do what is in the best interest of the shareholders,” he said. “Would we like to be in the city? Sure. Would we like to be in the county? Absolutely. But we’re also considering options that are outside of the county and the state.”
David Buicko, COO of the Galesi Group, said Automated Dynamics has been given a variety of options for alternative space that better suits the company’s needs, including the Niskayuna Commerce Park on Hillside Avenue.
The 100-acre park in Niskayuna, which is a Galesi property, could accommodate Automated Dynamics along with other technology and manufacturing companies, Buicko said.
“If we built for Automated Dynamics in Niskayuna we would build a building to accommodate their needs and we would probably build to attract more companies,” he said. “It will be a seamless transition if they locate to one of our other properties. We have time and we’re working with them.”
Like Automated Dynamics, STS Steel is also considering relocation. The manufacturing company abuts the Mohawk Harbor site at 301 Nott St. STS co-founder and president Glenn Tabolt told The Daily Gazette in August he prefers not to move, but believes the steel fabricator wouldn’t fit in next to housing and a possible casino.
Chamber of Schenectady County President Chuck Steiner said the chamber, along with the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority, has been working with Automated Dynamics to ensure that the company stays in Schenectady.
“We believe we have an excellent community and Automated Dynamics has excellent employees here,” Steiner said. “This has been home for Automated Dynamics and we believe we have all of the ingredients to ensure their continuation here.”
Steiner said he anticipates more companies like Automated Dynamics will locate to Schenectady because the region has a talented workforce. He praised Galesi’s development of the Alco site as “incredible.”
“It’s exciting to see it come together and see the renderings that they have of the harbor,” he said. “And then December 17 sounds like the day the state will announce sites for casinos. I think this community is well-positioned for the site and the casino.”
Galesi is partnering with Rush Street Gaming of Chicago on a proposed $330 million Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor. The state Gaming Facility Location Board plans to meet in Albany on Dec. 17 to announce recommended locations for casino licenses.
If the Alco site were chosen for a license, the casino and Starwood hotel would be developed in addition to the original housing plans. If not, the portion of the site dedicated for the project would probably remain undeveloped. Previous plans included a movie production studio.
Langone discussed plans to move with company employees during an event at Automated Dynamics on Wednesday. The company is celebrating four years without an OSHA reported injury.
Going four years without an injury among the company’s 30 employees is significant, Langone said. The company makes composite structures for the aerospace, defense, and oil and gas industries.
“I was glad when we reached three years and now we’re at four,” he said. “At the time, this seemed impossible and the statistics nearly make it impossible. It takes participation from everyone, and we were able to accomplish this because of our employees.”
Plans for a move come as Langone said the company is positioned to grow 30 percent by next year.
“That’s including having to accommodate the disruption of a move,” he said. “We have expanded five times in this building already and had another space already in our lease that we were in the process of moving into. We’ve added employees every quarter so far this year, and my expectation is that will continue through next year.”