Schenectady County

Progress on site transforms Mohawk Harbor

The Mohawk Harbor project has taken the former Alco site along the Mohawk River and transformed it.
A view from the top floor of the River House luxury condominiums with the Rivers Casino in the back ground in Schenectady Friday, October 28, 2016.
A view from the top floor of the River House luxury condominiums with the Rivers Casino in the back ground in Schenectady Friday, October 28, 2016.

Driving through the Mohawk Harbor development in a black SUV, David Buicko reflected on the progress that’s been made on the old industrial site so far.

He pointed to the sign that’s gone up on the Rivers Casino, the amenities in the recently opened Marriott and windows waiting to be installed at the new Riverhouse apartments and talked about how far the site has come.

Weaving around construction vehicles and pointing to ongoing project after ongoing project, the COO of the Galesi Group, the developer responsible for much of the activity at the Mohawk Harbor site, eventually arrived at waterfront apartments being built right along the harbor itself.

“I guarantee these will be the nicest apartments in the Capital Region,” he said of the Riverhouse.

The Mohawk Harbor project has taken the former Alco site along the Mohawk River and transformed it. The former industrial site is now a hub of construction activity, with regular signs of visible progress to those passing by on Erie Boulevard.

In addition to the casino, which cost just over $300 million, Galesi Group has invested about $150 million in the 60-acre site.

By next summer, most projects already underway will be complete, Buicko said. That includes townhouse units planned to go up along the river, two buildings that will be a mix of office and retail space, luxury apartments, the casino and its accompanying hotel.

The Marriott at Mohawk Harbor on Oct. 20 became the first building on the site to open. The same day, it was announced the Rivers Casino would open in February. More details regarding a specific casino opening date, and some of the retailers that will be filling available space, will be released over the next several weeks, Buicko said.

There are other details to be firmed up as well. A steakhouse will operate in the casino, and the name of the steakhouse will be announced in the near future, Buicko said. The casino will include an events center, a marketplace with several smaller dining options and a small spa.

The casino has been the most publicly discussed part of the project. A “Rivers Casino” sign recently went up, which Buicko said will be lit with LED lights at night.

The casino is bordered by a 165-room hotel, which is scheduled to open next June, and a five-story parking garage. Behind the casino and hotel is a walking and biking path that borders the Mohawk River.

A short drive from the casino is the Riverhouse, a six-story waterfront apartment complex that will open in July and include retail on the lower level. The shell of the building is clearly visible from Erie Boulevard, rising up behind the completed Marriott.

Buicko said he’s had discussions with a few different restaurants that are interested in filling the lower level space. One is a seafood restaurant, and another is a pub-type establishment. He said he doesn’t want similar style restaurants on site competing with each other.

The Riverhouse is a 206-unit apartment building. The frames of each unit have been built and some of the siding and windows have started going up.

From the corner of the sixth floor, Buicko pointed out what he called the best views in the region.

From one side of the building, a corner apartment overlooks the Mohawk River on two of its four sides. From the other end of the building, a corner apartment offers a view of the harbor itself, carved into the River.

Both apartments provide the tenant with an unobstructed view of the water, sparkling in the sun with the backdrop of changing fall colors, and will be priced at what Buicko called “a premium.”

Studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments make up the Riverhouse’s available space. Buicko said they’ve already had some tenants express interest in leasing.

Rent for a studio apartment starts at $1,000, a one-bedroom apartment starts at $1,500 and two-bedroom apartments cost anywhere from $2,000-$3,300, depending on the floor plan and location within the building, according to the Riverhouse website.

“We’re going to price it so people can afford to live here,” Buicko said, adding that the Riverhouse prices are lower than similar luxury apartments recently opened in Albany and Saratoga Springs.

The Riverhouse is bordered by the Marriott and the Harbor Center, another building scheduled to be completed next summer, Buicko said. The Harbor Center is a $27 million facility that will consist of two buildings.

One Harbor Center will be a 39,000 square foot building, and Two Harbor Center will be nearly 66,000 square feet. Both buildings will be primarily used for office space, and will include retail on the first floor.

The combination of recreation, retail and housing all in one area can make the Mohawk Harbor a regional destination, and attractive to people looking to move to the city, Buicko said.

The Marriott has seen steady occupancy since its Oct. 20 opening, said Jeff Michaleson, the hotel’s general manager. The Marriott is considered prototypical for a mid-size urban locale, but has the latest designs, furniture and layouts, Michaelson said.

It’s geared toward business travelers, and includes amenities such as the ability to print a boarding pass in the lobby and the option for a guest to log into their Netflix or other streaming service account on their hotel room TV. The hotel also features an indoor swimming pool, meeting space and fitness center.

The ongoing overhaul of the site has drawn interest from locals, to the point where some have booked a stay at the Marriott.

“They want to see the hotel and they want to see the project since they’ve heard so much about it,” Michaelson said.

Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels at 395-3113, [email protected] or @Brett_Samuels27 on Twitter.

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