First tenants moving into Mohawk Harbor apartments

River House to open first 120 units
Schenectady Fire Chief Ray Senecal and Galesi Group CEO David Buicko chat outside the River House apartments on Friday.
Schenectady Fire Chief Ray Senecal and Galesi Group CEO David Buicko chat outside the River House apartments on Friday.

In three days, Mohawk Harbor will have its first residents.

The River House apartment building is essentially complete, and the first 120 units are polished up and ready for occupancy. Fifty-six of the 206 units have been leased, and 37 tenants will be moving in next week, the first of those on Tuesday, the first day of August.

The scene was a beehive of activity Friday, with an army of hard-hatted, safety-vested tradesmen working away on a thousand details big and small, cherry-pickers rising and falling, backup alarms beeping as they trundled around. They’ll continue on through the weekend and Monday, because after Tuesday their work hours will be sharply curtailed in consideration of the people who’ve moved in.

Project leader David Buicko, CEO of the Galesi Group, said the company’s long journey in turning the former Alco locomotive factory into a live-work-play community known as Mohawk Harbor enters its final leg Tuesday when the tenants arrive and the last missing component of live-work-play starts to fall in place:

  • Boat slips will go in the harbor next week;
  • The office building across from the apartment building will be complete by mid- to late August;
  • The remaining 86 apartments at the River House will be ready for occupancy by Sept. 1;
  • The amphitheater will be built at the base of the harbor by early September, if the rain finally eases and the ground finally dries out enough;
  • Commercial space on the ground floor of the apartment building will be completed in the next 10 to 16 weeks;
  • The townhouses now framed out on the north end the property will be completed by the end of this year.

Buicko and property manager MacKenzie Matthews walked The Gazette through the 390,000-square-foot building Friday, harried as they worked their smartphones and checked off punchlists, and weary from recent weeks of doing so, but also showing a lot of pride in what is a quite rare commodity in upstate New York: brand-new waterfront residential rental space.

Apartments range in size from studio to two-bedroom-with-den, roughly 650 to 1,750 square feet, renting for $1,000 to $3,300 a month.

Top-price units feature soaring ceilings and panoramic river views through walls of glass. View lines from lower-cost units generally don’t reach as far. Most units feature a balcony with privacy screen. All units, even the studios, include a full-size washer and dryer; stacked front-loaders are used in smaller apartments to save space.

All floor plans seem to have been designed to maximize the sense of openness in however many square feet each apartment contains, through greater use of floor-to-ceiling glass and lesser use of floor-to-ceiling partitioning. 

Included with rent is cable television and high-speed Internet service; 24-hour gym access; and one parking space in the heated underground garage. There are about two dozen more spaces in the garage than there are apartments above; tenants with a second vehicle in the household can rent one of them.

Weather has been, and may yet be, a factor in the timetable for it all. As noted, the amphitheater is still a field of mud. The swimming pool was full and ready for swimmers Friday, but the deck hadn’t been sealed, as the sealant needs three days without rain to cure. Sod was laid down Friday on what had been bare soil that morning.

But the fire pit should be ready go, if those first tenants want to relax outside Tuesday evening.

Buicko said no next phase for Mohawk Harbor has been determined at this point. Adding in the cost of the Rivers Casino and Resort, and the two hotels that are up and running, the price tag now stands at $480 million.

When the townhouses are completed, he said, “We’re going to pause and take a deep breath.”

He recalls the Galesi Group purchasing the former Alco plant more than seven years ago — on April Fool’s Day in 2010 — with no real idea what to do with it. Within a couple of years, they’d leveled what had been a crumbling eyesore, dried out from a massive flood, cleaned up industrial contaminants, and begun moving toward what would eventually become Mohawk Harbor.

“It gives you a great pride to walk on that property where 75,000 locomotives were made, where tanks were made that beat Rommel, and you’re creating something new,” Buicko said.

After leading the tour of the River House, where the elevators and air conditioners were turned off Friday, he walked around the corner and into the Courtyard Marriot in his sweat-soaked Rivers Casino polo shirt. In the lobby he ran into a Houston man who apparently didn’t realize he was talking to the person in charge of the whole project.

The Texan said his daughter was moving to Schenectady to start working for General Electric and he’d come along to see where she’d be living, which was the River House. And he was satisfied she’d picked a good place.

“Those little things make you feel pretty damn good,” Buicko said later.

Categories: Business, News, Schenectady County


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