A Schenectady developer is planning to construct an office building on upper State Street, contributing to development slowly occurring outside of the city’s downtown.
John Roth, president of Highbridge Development and Plank Construction, is proposing a two-story, 22,440-square-foot office building at 724 State St. Roth is also renovating an existing 10,818-square-foot building next door.
Roth bought the properties from the Haraden family, who own Mohawk Honda. The building he is renovating used to be home to Mohawk Chevrolet. The Mohawk Auto Center is located next door at 756 State St.
“I am always looking for development opportunities,” Roth said. “I had a couple of clients who were looking for spaces within the city limits but on a bus route. The location actually piqued my interest so we went after it.”
Roth said he already has two tenants interested in both buildings but declined to name them until the contracts are signed.
He added that the total price tag for the project is not yet known until the tenants are confirmed.
“I don’t have a dollar value only because it depends on the end user,” he said. “If I get this specific end user the value will change. We’re hoping we can attract the right tenants and get them committed on the site within the next three to six months.”
Roth is looking to have the new office building opened and occupied by sometime next year. The renovation of the existing building is expected to be done by August, he said.
Roth is seeking site plan approval for the new office building on the vacant lot from the city Planning Commission during its next meeting on March 16.
Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, said Roth’s office building will add to other development activity in the area by the Hamilton Hill and Vale neighborhoods.
Further up State Street, the Phyllis Bornt Library Branch and Family Literacy Center opened its doors recently at 948 State St. with a Family Dollar next door, which is expected to open by the end of the month.
Also nearby on Albany Street, DePaul Properties of Rochester is gearing up to build a 51-unit affordable housing complex, named The Joseph L. Allen Apartments after the late city councilman.
During the Planning Commission’s meeting next week, DePaul is requesting to put solar panels on the roof of the three-story, 52,500-square-foot building at 770-782 Albany St.
Gillen also noted that several blighted buildings in the immediate area have been demolished recently, like Andy’s Ski Shop at 738 Albany St.
“We have other buildings targeted for renovation or demolition on both Albany Street and State Street as well as some major new construction projects,” Gillen said.
Roth is responsible for a number of development projects in downtown, not only on State Street but also Broadway.
Highbridge Development is teaming with Prime Companies of Cohoes on a $20 million building at the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard that will add 105 luxury apartments and 9,900 square feet of ground-floor retail space.
The 144,000-square-foot building, which will be called the Electric City Apartments, is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
Demolition is still ongoing to make way for the project. The buildings knocked down include the BiMor Army & Navy building at 232 State St., a red brick building at 236 State St., which was once occupied by Absolute Pest Control, and the Olender Mattress building at 254 State St.
On Broadway, Roth demolished a building at 412 State St. in September that was well-known for its Coca-Cola ghost sign that once read “Drink Coca-Cola. Relieves Fatigue” along with “Delicious and Refreshing” and “Sold Everywhere 5¢.”
“That building was in such bad shape,” he said. “When I got the opportunity to buy it, it made sense to take it down and get that area shovel-ready. I want to start marketing that area.”
Roth also owns properties on each side of where that building once stood. He said the plan is to erect office and retail buildings there in the near future.
Roth said his vision has been to develop that section of Edison and Broadway up toward State Street. He said he is also working on some other potential projects in the area.
“It will take a bit more time,” he said. “There is a lot more to do. There is a lot of construction work going on in the city right now, which is a good thing for the city and the tax base.”
Roth grew up in Rotterdam and his grandparents lived in the city. He said his family ties to the area are a major reason he is passionate about contributing to the revitalization of the community.
“When I got the opportunity I wanted to contribute something to the city,” he said. “I want to help bring it back to its former glory.”
Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.