Schenectady County

Projects develop Schenectady’s Eastern Avenue

The transformation of Schenectady’s Eastern Avenue corridor continues with a new apartment building

The transformation of Schenectady’s Eastern Avenue corridor continues with a new apartment building planned and work moving forward at St. Mary’s Church.

The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority plans to purchase 839 Eastern Ave. for $15,000 and sell the vacant property to a developer who is looking to convert the building into six apartment units.

The developer plans to invest more than $200,000 into the distressed property, according to Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen. Gillen did not disclose the developer on Wednesday.

“The building has been neglected and it is a very high priority,” Gillen said. “We have an experienced apartment developer looking to transform it. We have to get an appraisal for the building first and then sell it for its appraised value.”

The building is assessed at $167,900, according to county property records. Falaq Hosein, who purchased the property in 2007 for $149,900, last owned it.

During a meeting Wednesday evening, the Metroplex board also approved a $20,000 grant to help with improvements at the former St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church at 828 Eastern Ave.

The funding from Metroplex will be used to repair the sidewalk and install a water line.

Troy artist and entrepreneur Sandra Vardine purchased the property last year for $60,000 and plans to reopen it as a museum, art school and event venue.

Renovating the 20,000-square-foot building has cost Vardine about $250,000 to date, Gillen said.

“They have been making major improvements to the church and we’re helping to invest in the neighborhoods and do improvements out front,” Gillen said. “They have made a lot of progress.”

Vardine said she is looking to debut the new space by December. The building is able to accommodate 756 people, she said.

“It is coming along nicely,” she said. “We’re absolutely looking to open before the end of the year, sometime in December. The first opening event will be an open house and cash bar fundraiser for the House of Angels art projects.”

The church is assessed at $110,000, according to county property records. Polish immigrants founded the church in 1892. The church closed in 2009 due to declining enrollment.

At the same time, work on the RAS Furniture building is expected to get underway soon and a park on Eastern Avenue will be created with green space, Gillen said.

The two-story former RAS Furniture store at 823 Eastern Ave. will be redeveloped by Mark Leszczynski, who owns several nearby businesses, with the help of a $75,000 matching grant from Metroplex.

Three buildings at 866, 868 and 870 Eastern Ave. were demolished with plans for a new park, called Tribute Park, to be developed next to Vale Park. The oval-shaped park will span about half an acre.

Also, Metroplex approved 100 more parking spaces to accommodate additional Workers Compensation Board staff that will be relocating from expired lease space in Menands to 328 State St.

State employees from the state Gaming Commission and the Office of Children and Family Services will also use the parking spaces. Metroplex owns nine parking lots and a parking garage with 1,100 spaces.

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