Two historic buildings on lower State Street and lower Union Street will be rehabilitated with apartments with funding from the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority.
The Metroplex board approved renovations for vacant buildings at 3 State St. and 508 Union St. during a meeting Wednesday evening and will provide $100,000 and $60,000 in grants for the projects, respectively.
Tom Keaney, Mark Clark and Chris Kelly purchased the State Street building, located across the street from Schenectady County Community College, from Community Preservation Corp. more than two years ago. The three Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduates, who were classmates together, are teaming up on the project.
They plan to invest about $2 million to restore the five-story, 11,500-square-foot building and construct eight or nine large apartments with three and four bedrooms, according to Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen.
“We’re three college classmates and all went to RPI,” Keaney said. “Chris said we should all do something together. For all three of us it’s our first project in Schenectady. We had purchased the building and sat for a while to figure out the best use for it. The bones are great, but it needs a whole lot of love.”
Rent for the apartments is not yet known. Keaney said they opted for fewer units due to the layout of the building and for egress purposes. It previously had 16 or 17 units.
Keaney, of Guilderland, previously worked for BBL Construction and Columbia Development in Albany. He started doing development projects on his own more than a year ago.
The building, built in 1903, was previously the Alexandra Apartments and housed General Electric employees.
The owners plan to make major upgrades to the building’s facade along with new electrical, lighting and plumbing. They’re also seeking historic tax credits for the project.
“It’s not a cheap project,” Keaney said. “You can walk through there and still see some semblance of the character of the building, but that’s only 20 to 30 percent of the building.”
They would have to keep much of the building’s characteristics to receive historic tax credits, such as the layout and facade. Re4orm Architecture of Schenectady is the architect for the project.
“We’ll adapt and reuse what’s there,” he said. “The layout needs to be similar. We’ll reincorporate the hallway. The facade needs a fair amount of work.”
Keaney said they’re also planning to install an elevator, replace the roof, repair the main stairwell and get rid of the fire escapes on the side of the building.
Renovations to the building, which is located next to the Stockade Historic District, will begin this fall, Metroplex said.
Keaney said the building is in a prime location that has received a lot of attention in recent years, pointing to plans for 61 senior apartments at the old YMCA at 13 State St. and the expansion of Liberty Park.
“We noticed the building a long time ago and secured it as best as we could,” he said. “There seems to be a great push for redevelopment of lower State Street. But there is still a lot of work to get done.”
Metroplex also approved plans for the renovation of 508 Union St., which was purchased in March by local developer Tony Ward from the city.
In addition to Ward, owners also include Paul and John Bonacquisti of Bonacquisti Brothers Construction in Cohoes and Sean Curtin of development company 100N5 LLC.
The owners plan to invest more than $500,000 into the 4,000-square-foot building on lower Union Street and add ground-floor office space and two upscale apartments on the second floor.
Ward said in March that the building has a small parking lot in the back with six or seven spaces. He said it needs extensive work to restore the building’s facade and upgrade utilities.
Ward, of AKW Consulting, has also renovated 28 Yates St., 124 Jay St. and 30 Jay St.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to restore this beautiful historic building located at 508 Union St. and to once again see it occupied after sitting vacant for the past four years,” Ward said.
In addition to the Metroplex grant, Ward is also seeking historic tax credits. He said in March that the project could be done by the end of the year.
The Metroplex board passed a resolution to give $237,000 to transform Liberty Park on lower State Street by SCCC into Gateway Park.
As part of the deal Metroplex is selling two buildings to the Federal Emergency Management Administration — 10 State St. and 108 Railroad St. — at the site of the newly expanded park for $138,000, bringing its net contribution down to $99,000.
The park project comes with a nearly $1 million price tag. On top of the Metroplex grant, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation awarded a $400,000 grant for the project as part of the Regional Economic Development Council awards last year.
The city is putting in $337,000 for the project, Gillen said.
The project will double the size of the park, expanding it to include Water Street and by the College Suites on Washington Avenue. The park will also include green space with a plaza, performance space and other attractions.
The city of Schenectady was awarded a FEMA grant for $960,161 to purchase and demolish three buildings — 18 and 10 State St. and 108 Railroad St. — that were damaged in Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The park will be expanded on the vacant lots.
Demolition will happen early next year, Gillen said. The first phase of the park project will be done sometime next year, he said.
Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.
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Any updates on this story. I remember reading about this years ago, and in particular I remember this text: “Keaney said they’re also planning to install an elevator, replace the roof, repair the main stairwell and get rid of the fire escapes on the side of the building.”
Just curious if this renovation is still in progress or if there was any new news on it.