SCHENECTADY — The landmark former Masonic temple at the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard is in line for renovation and redevelopment as part of a real estate deal announced Friday.
New Choices Recovery Center, the longtime occupant of 302 State St., will move next year to a 22,500-square-foot building being constructed at 724 State St. by Highbridge Development. Once the drug and alcohol treatment organization is relocated, it will sell the five-story former Masonic building to Highbridge for redevelopment as mixed-use retail-residential-commercial space. It totals about 30,000 square feet.
The $4 million project at 724 State St. is being built on a lot that was formerly part of the Mohawk auto dealership complex. It will be tax-exempt, as New Choices is a non-profit. After New Choices sells 302 State St., that building will lose its tax-exempt status.
“We are truly excited to be underway with the construction of our new facility,” Stuart Rosenblatt, executive director of New Choices, said in a prepared statement Friday. “The new building is just a few blocks from our current location, and the new construction will continue the revitalization efforts on the 700 block of State Street.”
In the same prepared statement, Highbridge CEO John Roth said the two projects are part of an ongoing rebirth of the downtown area.
“Our company has been investing in Schenectady since 1999, and we are pleased to continue these efforts by constructing the new building at 724 State while we begin to renovate and restore the former Masonic Temple at 302 State,” he said. “Both projects will continue the momentum in downtown Schenectady, and we are proud to be a part of it.”
The 302 State St. building will give Highbridge a significant presence in that section of the city. Roth has already purchased the much-smaller building next door, at 306 State — a former Capital Region Chamber office — and is constructing the $20 million Electric City Apartments across Erie Boulevard, in the 200 block of State Street.
The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority helped broker the deal. Chairman Ray Gillen said it will be exciting to see a historic building in such a prominent location begin a new chapter.
“It’s a key corner; it’s a very important historic building,” he said.
724 State Street in Schenectady. (Peter R. Barber)
Metroplex is providing an exemption from sales tax on building materials needed for both 724 State St. and 302 State St., and will help Roth get 302 State St. placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building at 302 State St. was constructed in 1912 and was purchased by the Masons in 1919. It has been home to New Choices since 1992.
Gillen and Rosenblatt credited Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services with providing the funding by which New Choices will move into its new home.
New Choices was created in November 1968 as the Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Council of Schenectady County.
It also operates an outpatient clinic and four residential facilities in the city of Schenectady.