Schenectady County

Maritime Center in Alplaus the ‘perfect spot’ for rowers

Within the next few months, the Capital Region Maritime Center is expected to have new ownership and
Shenendehowa crew teammates carry a boat for practice next to the Capital Region Maritime Center on March 31, 2016.
Shenendehowa crew teammates carry a boat for practice next to the Capital Region Maritime Center on March 31, 2016.

Within the next few months, the Capital Region Maritime Center is expected to have new ownership and serve as a community rowing center.

Tony Hynes, CEO of Precision Valve & Automation in Cohoes, acquired the note to the property at 801-901 Maritime Drive, and is in the late stages of foreclosure proceedings.

The Burnt Hills Rowing Associates and the Shenendehowa Crew Club have an agreement to use a portion of the center’s riverfront land to practice, but the agreement restricts the teams outdoors so rowers have no access to heat or an indoor bathroom.

Hynes said he hopes to turn the center into a community rowing center for groups and crews all over the Capital Region.

“I’d like to make it so that any of the programs like Burnt Hills or Shen that might be looking for a home can have a home and might expand,” Hynes said. “I’m not a rower . . . but the more I learn about it, the more I see rowing is a great activity for young people.

“[The center] is a perfect spot for it.”

Hynes is also the co-founder and president of the not-for-profit Fast Break Fund, which sends underprivileged youth or youth with special needs to sports camps.

Hynes said the community rowing center would also be a nonprofit organization, but legal proceedings have to be completed before it gets up and running.

Over the past few years, the Capital Region Maritime Center board has struggled to stay afloat after a pattern of losing tenants.

The center was founded in 1999 to teach low- and moderate-income students trade skills for the boating industry, and Capital Region BOCES was its primary tenant until May 2011.

In spring of 2012 the property was listed for sale for $1.2 million, but in December 2012 the local private school Saratoga Academy signed a three-year lease for the space for $90,000 a year to open a middle school.

At the time, the center still had $350,000 to pay back on a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development loan it took out to build the facility.

Ray Legere, one of the center’s board members, said the school was there roughly a year. Legere claims they “reneged on the lease” early.

“Because of that, we lost our income stream and we lost our mortgage,” Legere said. “We tried to look for other tenants, but we owed the bank money. . . . There were extenuating circumstances, which may or may not be avoidable, but once you lose your income stream, you have no bullets for your gun.”

The Saratoga Academy no longer has its campus in Alplaus, but its main Halfmoon campus offers education for children in kindergarten through fourth grade.

Saratoga Academy founder and headmaster Michael Christensen declined to comment because of “potential litigation.”

The building was listed for sale again in December of 2014 for $949,000, according to commercial real estate marketplace LoopNet. The price was changed last April to $549,000.

In 2015, the property’s total assessment was $2,360,910, according to Schenectady County property records.

Legere said the board was unable to make mortgage payments for the past few years. About a year ago, Hynes said, he started the process to acquire the center’s note.

Hynes and Legere estimated the note cost between $350,000 to $400,000, including late payment fees and other penalties.

Legere said when Hynes bought the note, he offered to give the board 50 cents to the dollar to help them pay back debt to creditors they had from outside the mortgage, but the board didn’t take it.

“We tried to negotiate and have a conversation because we didn’t want to sell the people we owed short . . . as we owed like $80,000 or $100,000,” Legere explained. “But we understand, he had no obligation to do that [offer more].

“We want people to understand, Tony is a wonderful guy,” he added. “We’re the ones who failed on the note and couldn’t make ends meet. We’re not angry, just disappointed.”

Hynes said he isn’t sure if the board’s creditors have a lien on the property.

“I wouldn’t be forced to pay the creditors,” Hynes said. “That’s why you go through that [negotiation] process, because at least those creditors get something [rather] than nothing. If it goes to foreclosure they get nothing.

“We may be looking at an unpaid tax bill, but we are prepared to pay that.”

Hynes rescinded the negotiation offer, and has since gone forward with the foreclosure proceedings.

Now, Hynes said a few things could happen: He could own the property via foreclosure, the board could pay the money they owe on the mortgage to maintain ownership or the board could deed the property over to him.

“I am more than happy to accept payment from them for their debt at any time,” Hynes said.

Legere said the board had ideas for an indoor rowing facility after Saratoga Academy left, and he’s happy to hear Hynes plans to make them a reality.

“It’s a great idea, I don’t care who does it,” Legere said. “Our mission was to increase maritime studies and awareness. In a way, this will continue that.”

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