Planners OK fourth story for proposed downtown Schenectady apartment building

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Categories: News, Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY — And then there were four.

Developers planning to build an apartment building in downtown Schenectady received approval from the city Planning Commission on Wednesday to add a fourth story onto the structure.

The change will increase the number of apartment units at the proposed complex at 501 State St. to 58 from 49.

The previous design will remain the same, essentially a “copy and paste” of the plans approved by commissioners in June but with an additional story, said Damien Pinto-Martin, vice president of development at Redburn.

Commissioners praised the concept, and said a four-story building isn’t out of scale for the neighborhood.

“We obviously have the demand down there,” said city Planning Commission Vice Chairman Bradley Lewis.

Redburn Development Partners tore down the former Citizens Bank located between Clinton and Barrett streets earlier this summer and have not yet started construction on the new building.

Ron Suriano, who owns two buildings adjacent to the project, approved of the design facing State Street, but wondered if the building would mesh with others located on the side streets, which are primarily two- and three-story structures.

The $10 million project is part of a broader $38.7 million effort by Redburn to develop the underutilized Clinton Street corridor from City Hall to Broadway, a measure the developers hope will breathe new life into side streets.

Another element to that effort is the Redburn-owned former OTB at the corner of Clinton and Smith streets.

Officials on Wednesday also issued site plan approval to convert that structure into a 28-unit apartment building, containing one and, if possible, two-bedroom units with monthly rents of between $900 and $1,100, Pinto-Martin said.

As with their other restoration projects, Redburn will use historic tax credits to restore the structure as part of the $5 million effort, conducting only minor modifications, including removing faded awnings and restoring several filled-in windows.

“From an exterior standpoint, there’s actually very little happening,” Pinto-Martin said.

Commissioners requested minor modifications, including those related to lighting, windows and landscaping.

The building was originally used as the central police station in Schenectady from the 1930s to the 1970s when the current headquarters was moved to Liberty Street.

OTB used the location since its inception in the early-1970s until last year, when they relocated to State Street.

Redburn will provide on-site parking for the 41 required spots at 301 Clinton St., sparing the developers from seeking a variance.

A request for a variance for 501 State St. proved controversial last month, prompting concerns from neighboring business owners and residents about congestion, as well as questioning from city Board of Zoning Appeals commissioners about the developer’s long-term strategy when it comes to providing parking for their rapidly expanding holdings in the city.

Parking for 501 State St. will be provided by the developers in the current Bank of America parking lot, which Redburn plans to purchase if awarded $2.75 million in state grant funds as part of Schenectady Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

“There’s no need to have a zoning variance or anything of that nature,” Pinto-Martin said. “We’re meeting the regulations as required.”

Planning Commissioner Chaiwomanr Mary Moore Wallinger said downtown will only benefit from increased apartment dwellers.

“It’s very exciting to see something happening over there and carrying improvements across State Street,” Wallinger said.

Clinton Street may also be poised for improved LED lighting as part of Schenectady DRI. Among the projects submitted to the state for funding earlier this month was a $875,000 request that would also include North Broadway and Little Italy, where the city is eyeing the installation of canopy lights similar to those on the Jay Street Marketplace.

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