An eyesore in Rotterdam is one big step closer to coming down.
Forum Industries of Clifton Park purchased the 12-acre site of the former Curry Road Shopping Plaza from the town for $375,000 Monday, clearing the way for the demolition of 85,000 square feet of empty retail space.
The demolition would make way for a 180-unit senior housing development to include green space and walking paths, according to Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority. The planned apartment complex is a mix of one- and two-bedroom units and includes a business center, gym, outdoor patio and other amenities.
About 21⁄2 acres will be preserved as a nature area with trails and roughly 1⁄4 acre will be donated to Rotterdam Fire District No. 2 to square off the fire department’s property, which is adjacent to the site.
Forum Industries also plans to build two retail buildings of 2,200 square feet and 4,000 square feet at the front of the site along Curry Road, the larger of which would house a TrustCo Bank branch that is currently the plaza’s only remaining business.
Rotterdam town Supervisor Harry Buffardi said the town has no specific plan for the $375,000 netted through the property’s sale, but said “it’s taxpayer money. We’ll try to spend it efficiently and usefully.”
The Metroplex board voted Wednesday night to provide a matching $350,000 grant for site work and demolition.
“We level the playing field with greenfield development sites by providing this demolition and site work grant to be matched by the developer,” Gillen said. “This project is about smart growth and the removal of blighted buildings.”
The project’s total cost is estimated at $20 million. Forum Industries, which is owned by Andy Sciocchetti, had previous success building a 70-unit senior housing project in Clifton Park, Gillen said. The developer’s plan for a senior housing complex on Curry Road has been discussed for about two years.
“It’s a big, complicated project,” Gillen said. “The site has sat idle for so many years, and there were a number of negotiations that had to be completed before we could move forward. It’s a very complex project that no one has ever been able to get done in the past.”
Buffardi said Rotterdam has an older population than most communities in the Capital Region, and the town needs the senior housing that the project will bring. He also said the new development will certainly be an improvement over the current building, which he said has trees growing out of its roof.
“I found it a bit disturbing that we would try and push code enforcement on properties, and the town of Rotterdam probably owned one of the worst properties in the town,” he said.
The supervisor said he is excited about the building finally coming down after years of adding nothing but blight to a busy section of the town. The plaza, once home to a Kmart, a gift shop and an auto center, among other stores, has been mostly vacant for 25 years. In recent years, it housed a Price Chopper print shop owned by Golub Corp. This past summer, the plaza’s expansive parking lot was used as a watering station when a series of water main breaks left much of the town without drinking water.
“When that building starts to come down, I’ll be the guy standing out there with the big grin on my face,” Buffardi said. “It has been such a long time coming, I don’t even know when that property went into default.”
Renovating the site wasn’t an option because the buildings are in such bad shape from years of deterioration, Gillen said.
“They’re not energy-efficient,” he said. “They’re a mess.”
Gillen said he expects the demolition to take place this year, but said it can’t happen until Forum Industries purchases portions of the site from Golub Corp.
“[Andy Sciocchetti] is buying some of the property still owned by Golub,” he said, “and the plan is already approved by the town.”
He declined to be more specific about when the demolition would take place, but said it would begin as soon as possible. Once the bank moves into the new building, that portion of the site would be demolished, Gillen said.
“It’s going be a great event for the community,” he said.
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