Schenectady County

Capital Region Chamber moving to Erie Boulevard

The Capital Region Chamber has chosen its new home in Schenectady: it will move from the building it
1473 Erie Blvd. in Schenectady, as photographed Wednesday.
1473 Erie Blvd. in Schenectady, as photographed Wednesday.

The Capital Region Chamber has chosen its new home in Schenectady: it will move from the building it owns at 306 State St. to leased space at 1473 Erie Blvd. in April.

The half-mile move takes it out of what has traditionally been defined as Downtown but puts it right across from the new Mohawk Harbor. It’s also in an area that downtown development is expanding toward, said Chamber CEO Mark Eagan.

“When we looked, in our [request for proposals] we said ‘downtown area,’” he said. That was defined as between Nott Street and General Electric, or between the MVP headquarters and Schenectady County Community College.

The Capital Region Chamber was formed in 2015 by the merger of the Albany-Colonie Chamber and Chamber of Schenectady County. The new organization retained the offices of its two components — on State Street and near Wolf Road in Colonie — but it began to move staff between the two to better share duties, Eagan said. That will continue with a full realignment once the move is complete, so that various functions will be performed in one office or the other, not both.

In the Schenectady office, he said, “We’ll have a lot of our membership function, a lot of the folks our members already know.” The Colonie office will focus on event planning and administrative work.

The two offices do not divide their functions by geography, Eagan said: “We all serve the whole region.”

Five people work in the State Street office now; six will work in the Erie Boulevard office after the move and realignment.

The State Street office is 4,000 square feet on three floors, with no elevator and no designated parking, Eagan said. The new office is 3,000 square feet on a single floor; it has elevators and on-site parking, and the amount of usable space is about the same as the larger office on State Street.

He doesn’t expect the new configuration to inconvenience clients, most of whom visit by appointment rather than walking in off the street.

Cousins Jeff and Ray Legere co-own 1473 Erie Blvd., as well as 1482 Erie Blvd. across the street. The two buildings are connected by a pedestrian bridge over the boulevard and total 79,000 square feet. The main tenant was Siemens when the Legeres bought the buildings in the early 2000s, but after Siemens moved to State Street, the complex was mostly vacant.

Ray Legere said it was a long wait but things have turned around, which he credited to Mohawk Harbor, being built across the street.

“We’ve been holding our breath for quite a while on those buildings,” he said. “Now there’s a good reason to be down at that end of Erie.”

They’ve had some success renting out suites, the management of Rivers Casino & Resort has moved in as the casino is constructed and an out-of-town law firm will soon announce its relocation to the ground floor of 1473 Erie Blvd.

Legere said having the chamber on-site will be an asset beyond the rent it pays.

“Needless to say, I’m excited about the life it’s going to bring to the building,” he said.

Having found on a new home, the chamber will try harder to sell the 306 State St. building, which informally has been for sale but hasn’t been actively marketed. An asking price hasn’t been set for the structure, which had a 2015 assessment of $232,000.

Eagan said the sale effort would begin in earnest next month.

The State Street building is part of a small cluster of buildings that has development potential; they are all for sale and together form one of the last parts of downtown State Street east of Erie Boulevard that hasn’t been overhauled in recent decades.

Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen said he is trying to market that block, which he called a key location that should become even more attractive once a new train station is built across the street and redevelopment of lower State Street progresses.

There are many moving parts to that equation: The plan for the new train station was discarded as too expensive; a new plan has not been announced. A big lower State Street project right across Erie Boulevard has been on hold for seven months, due to a destabilized historic building.

Also, 308 State St., the old Rudnick’s building, was damaged by fire in 2014. And of course 306 State St. lacks an elevator, which is one of the things the Chamber didn’t like about it.

Finally, the six-story corner building at 302 State St. is being offered for sale by New Choices, which provides addiction treatment services.

Gillen said that is a prime location that’s attracting considerable interest.

“The key to that block is that corner building,” he said. “We’re actively selling that block.”

Reach Gazette Business Editor John Cropley at 395-3104, [email protected] or @cropjohn on Twitter.

Categories: Business, News

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