Schenectady County

Galesi eyes dock to attract larger boats at Mohawk Harbor

The Galesi Group is seeking state funding to build a dock that will accommodate tour boats at the Mo
The Mohawk Harbor project as seen from Freemans Bridge Road Wednesday, July 6, 2016.
The Mohawk Harbor project as seen from Freemans Bridge Road Wednesday, July 6, 2016.

The Galesi Group is seeking state funding to build a dock that will accommodate tour boats at the Mohawk Harbor site.

The city applied on Galesi’s behalf for $1.5 million in state funding as part of the state’s Regional Economic Development Council awards, which are typically held at the end of the year.

David Buicko, CEO of Galesi, said the harbor on site cannot fit boats more than 40 or 50 feet and that adding a 1,000-foot dock on the side of the harbor would attract larger boats and in turn more people.

“There are a lot of tour boats that go up and down the river, which I was surprised at,” he said. We thought about it a while ago, but it just wasn’t in the budget. I think tapping into that market is a good idea.”

Buicko said he would not move forward with building the dock if Galesi is not approved for funding by the state.

The Rotterdam developer is working to transform the old Alco site off Erie Boulevard with apartments, townhouses, office and retail, two hotels and the Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor.

The site’s main feature is the manmade harbor, which will have between 50 and 60 boat slips by next year.

The dock, which would be about 1,000 feet long, would be a floating structure parallel to the shore by the entrance to the harbor and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s small nuclear reactor, also known as the L. David Walthousen Laboratory.

Buicko said there are cruise ships that pass by the site and that he is hoping the dock would lure in the passengers to gamble, eat and sleep.

“There is one cruise line that goes four times a year from Chicago down the Mohawk River to the Hudson River,” he said.

More than 4,000 boats pass by the Mohawk Harbor site each year, according to the state Canal Corp.

The grant Galesi is seeking would be through the Canal Corp. as part of the REDC awards. The deadline to apply is July 29.

Galesi will be required to obtain a work permit from the Canal Corp. to construct the dock, according to Canal Corp. spokesman Shane Mahar.

“Galesi already has on file with us a ‘use and occupancy permit’ for the Mohawk Harbor,” he said. “We would just amend that permit to include the new dock structure once it’s built.”

Mahar said the dock would add to the 48 others that the Canal Corp. granted permits to along the Erie Canal and Mohawk River in Schenectady County.

He said a majority of those docks are residential with only a few marinas.

In addition to the dock, Galesi is also planning a path from the waterfront to a new visitor’s center that will include information on Schenectady hotels, restaurants and services as well as information on the Erie Canal, according to Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen.

The site will include biking and walking paths. The Schenectady County Legislature opted to name the bike path the Alco Heritage Trail in honor of the 60-acre property’s history as housing the American Locomotive Co. for decades until the manufacturer shutdown in 1969.

The 1.5-mile Alco Heritage Trail will include historical markers and signage to tell the history of Alco in Schenectady. There are also plans for an arboretum on site with as many as 450 trees of a variety of species.

The 124-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel will be the first building completed and opened on the site in October. Galesi’s 206-unit apartment building will be finished by mid-2017, Buicko said, and the townhouses will start being built in August or September.

The pilings are going in for the office and retail building now, which will be done in about a year, he said.

The Rivers Casino, which would be operated by Rush Street Gaming of Chicago, is expected to open in March followed by a 163-room hotel six months later.

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

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