Redburn to purchase former OTB headquarters in Schenectady

Big news coming soon, says developer
The old OTB building on Smith St. in Schenectady that Redburn Development has acquired.
The old OTB building on Smith St. in Schenectady that Redburn Development has acquired.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY — The former downtown OTB headquarters is the latest building poised to be transformed by a local developer with an expanding footprint in Schenectady.

Redburn Development Partners will purchase the office building at the corner of Smith and Clinton streets and turn it into an apartment building, Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority announced Monday.

OTB’s regional headquarters on State Street will now house the entire administrative team, a move Capital OTB officials say will make operations “more efficient and effective.” 

“We are excited that this property will be put to good use by providing local residents with new housing options,” said John Signor, president and CEO of Capital District OTB, in a released statement. 

The building housed roughly 20 employees

“We just moved the last person today,” said Robert Hemsworth, general counsel for Capital OTB.

Its board of directors signed off on the sale of 510 Smith St. for $365,000.

Capital District Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation has operated at the site since its formation in the early 1970s. 

Like other properties Redburn has purchased in recent years, the location will be renovated into apartments.

“We’re very early in the process,” said Jeff Buell, a Redburn principal. 

The Schenectady-based developer will continue to focus on “affordable homes for young professionals and others who want to live and work downtown,” Buell said. 

“I think we’re going to focus on workforce housing and building everyday apartments for everyday people,” said Buell, who estimated work to conclude late next year or in early 2021.

The building was originally used as the central police station in Schenectady from the 1930s to the 1970s until a new station was built on Liberty Street. 

The purchase comes at a time when apartment growth is exploding downtown. 

Nine hundred apartment units have been created in recent years, according to Metroplex, not including 74 pending units as part of the Mill Artisan District project. 

“Additional housing options will make downtown Schenectady affordable for more renters while contributing to the vibrancy of our downtown district,” said County Legislator Gary Hughes in a released statement. 

Redburn has become a power player in reshaping downtown. 

To date, the developer, which merged with Sequence Development in 2018, has invested slightly more than $20 million in Schenectady. 

Recently-completed projects include renovation of Fitzgerald and Foster buildings, both of which now contain a combination of apartments and retail space, and renovation of the former Gazette press building at 132 Broadway. 

Facade upgrades were completed earlier this fall. 

“I think we’ll have an update in the next couple weeks,” Buell said. 

Redburn also purchased 19 buildings in the city’s Stockade neighborhood, and is partnering with Metroplex to redevelop the site of the former Citizens Bank at 501 State St.

The developer plans to tear down the structure and build a mixed-use building on the footprint, which will temporarily serve as a parking lot. 

“We’re in the design phase right now trying to piece together the best possible structure for the site,” Buell said Monday. 

Buell previously said project costs may exceed $15 million, and Metroplex will provide a $295,000 grant.

Redburn originally planned to demolish the building by the end of the year, but last week’s snowstorm delayed plans, he said. 

The building still requires asbestos remediation, an effort developers previously estimated will take between three and four weeks.

Buell said purchase of the Capital OTB building is part of a larger development package that the developer will announce in the next several weeks. 

“We’re figuring out what our next splash can be, and we’re focused heavily on Schenectady,” Buell said. 

That package will likely link into recently awarded $10 million in state economic development funds.

Schenectady beat out four other Capital Region locales for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative awarded last month.  

The Metroplex-penned application said the Citizens Bank and OTB projects relate to unspecified plans to develop on a “vacant triangle shaped property at Clinton Street and Broadway” and investments in a “major public space directly behind Proctors.”

DRI Schenectady also seeks to rehab a vacant building at 426 Franklin St., located directly across from City Hall, for retail and residential use.

With downtown renewal gaining momentum, both Metroplex and Redburn also said a key strategy is now boosting activity on side streets. 

“Of course, we are thrilled that Redburn will be renovating this space adding to the rapid pace of development in our resurgent downtown,” said Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen in a statement.

Redburn is also overhauling eight buildings in downtown Albany as part of $80 million effort to build 330 apartments paired with retail space.

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