Schenectady County

Work going fast at Mohawk Harbor thanks to mild winter

The Rivers Casino will start going up as early as next week as construction on the Mohawk Harbor sit
Construction has started on The Riverhouse apartments at the Mohawk Harbor site, seen February 2, 2016.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Construction has started on The Riverhouse apartments at the Mohawk Harbor site, seen February 2, 2016.

The Rivers Casino will start going up as early as next week as construction on the Mohawk Harbor site plows forward thanks to the mild winter.

Development of the 60-acre old Alco site off Erie Boulevard has been moving along with daily construction undisturbed because of the lack of snow in the Schenectady area so far this year.

“It’s been a lot more productive,” said Austin DiSiena, superintendent of Rifenburg Contracting of Troy, one of the contractors working on site. “Typically you will have lost days and then try to make up for them. This winter has been a lot more workable without frozen ground or snowfall.”

Rotterdam developer the Galesi Group is revitalizing the brownfield along the Mohawk River with housing, hotels, office and retail space, and a 50-slip harbor. The feature of the site will be the Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor.

On Wednesday, a groundbreaking was held on the property for the $330 million Rivers Casino, which was approved for a license by the state Gaming Commission in December.

The casino is expected to be built and opened by next March, according to Greg Carlin, CEO of Rush Street Gaming, a Chicago-based company that will operate the casino.

The foundation for the casino is now being built. Then later this month Rifenburg along with LeChase Construction of Schenectady will start putting up steel for the casino.

“The foundation is basically the concrete within the ground that holds up the structure,” DiSiena said. “All of the buildings have different pipes and foundations. We’ll start erecting steel in another week or two.”

The casino will also have an adjacent 163-room hotel, which isn’t expected to open until a couple of months after the casino due to Rush Street’s recent design change from 150 to 163 rooms, Carlin said. The name of the hotel has not yet been announced.

The Rivers Casino will be one of the state’s first commercial casinos, along with the Lago Resort and Casino in Tyre, Seneca County, and Montreign Resort Casino in Thompson, Sullivan County.

The casino is in addition to Galesi’s $150 million project that includes a 124-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel, 204-unit apartment building, 15-unit townhouse building, 50-unit condominium building, along with office and retail buildings.

Construction of the Marriott by BBL of Albany could be seen from Erie Boulevard. The hotel is expected to open in October, said Paul Fallati, vice president of the Galesi Group.

The apartment building, which is being built by LeChase, is expected to be done shortly after the Marriott opens its doors, according to David Buicko, COO of Galesi. The building will also have retail on the ground floor.

At the groundbreaking, Buicko said Galesi has lined up some office and retail tenants, which will be announced in the near future.

“We’re working on a couple more buildings, office buildings with retail,” Fallati said. “That will be coming out of the ground shortly. Condos and townhouses will follow. We still have to do more infrastructure work.”

Fallati said based on demand for housing and retail, Galesi would consider building additional buildings on site in the future. There is a portion of undeveloped land on the property in the current plans.

“If the apartments lease up real quick we’ll do another building,” he said. “If retail ramps up we’ll do another building. We want to be positioned for tenants’ needs. If a certain retailer comes along, we want to model the space for them.”

Fallati said next year would be a big year for the site, with many of the buildings either opened or under construction.

In the meantime, DiSiena said Rifenburg is now working on underground water and sewer for the rest of the year.

He said the number of contractors and subcontractors would drastically increase as building work moves forward.

“Within the next few months there will be hundreds of people on the site,” he said.

After buildings are built, the final step would be carving the biking and walking paths along with roads within the site.

“The excavation of the harbor is complete and the only thing that is left is the sidewalks and paths for a more decorative finish,” he said. “That’s the last thing to happen. Those are the finishing touches.”

Rifenburg is overseeing all of the site work at Mohawk Harbor including the infrastructure, like water and sewer, and groundwork, like dirt and foundations.

Two facilities that will remain on site after development include manufacturer STS Steel and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s small nuclear reactor called the L. David Walthousen Laboratory.

STS and RPI do not have plans at this time to relocate, and Buicko has stressed that Galesi is working around them.

Automated Dynamics, located adjacent to the Mohawk Harbor site on Front Street, will move into new space at Galesi’s Niskayuna Commerce Park so the building could be demolished later this month, Fallati said.

“We’re moving along and really hoping the winter continues like this,” he said. “Even if it doesn’t we’re past that stage. Next year will be huge for this site.”

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

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