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Everything from The Daily Gazette Sunday:
- News: Montgomery County – Spirits of the past: Century-old bundles of bootlegged whiskey discovered hidden in Montgomery County home
- News: Capital Region – Voter enrollment in Capital Region is shifting Democratic
- News: Capital Region – Capital Region counties have varied records in presidential years
- News: Capital Region – State tells agritourism businesses to follow COVID guidelines; Burnt Hills orchard talks response
- News: Schenectady – Foss: Schenectady Clergy Against Hate brings people together
- News: Capital Region – Capital Region continues to see some COVID cases
- News: Capital Region – Power restoration efforts nearing end
- News: Rotterdam – Rotterdam water main break closes roads
- News: Capital Region – Capital Region COVID-19 cases for Saturday, Oct. 10, by county
- News: Nation – NY Times: The swamp that Trump built
- Life&Arts: Niskayuna – Niskayuna man’s dogged quest for the truth chronicled in film ‘The Queen’s Man’
- Life&Arts: Greenpoint – Freeze warnings, yes, but no need to flee
- Sports: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake – Lorenc steps up in Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake boys’ soccer draw against Colonie
- Sports: Shenenehowa – Shenendehowa boys’ soccer finally opens season, beats Columbia 2-0
- Sports: Capital Region – Four teams representing six schools race in dizzying WAC cross country meet
- Sports: Niskayuna – High Schools: Niskayuna girls’ soccer wins at Averill Park
- Opinion: Editorial – Editorial: No more extensions on vehicle inspections
- Opinion: Letters – Letters to the Editor for Sunday, Oct. 11
AIDA agrees to purchase Chalmers, pending study
The board of the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency on Thursday voted unanimously to purchase the 3.3-acre site of the former Chalmers Knitting Mill for a price not to exceed $300,000.
Before the board voted to begin the process of acquiring the South Side parcel, it voted to hire C.T. Male Associates for $2,200 to do a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment [ESA] for the property.
“The purpose of that is to do due diligence with respect to the conditions at the parcel,” AIDA Executive John Duchessi said.
Duchessi said the final sale price will be determined by AIDA’s “counteroffer” to the parcel’s current owners, Chalmers Mill Lofts LP, a corporation controlled by KCG Development.
Duchessi said if KCG Development accepts AIDA’s counteroffer he has been authorized to make a $1,000 down payment on the property, but that will only happen if the ESA shows the parcel is acceptable to be used by AIDA for future development.
KCG Development purchased the parcel in December 2019 for $297,000 on the last day of a multi-year purchase option agreement with the city of Amsterdam.
KCG Development’s proposed project had enjoyed support from the Amsterdam Common Council, Montgomery County and the Greater Amsterdam School District.
The company’s plan to build a $34 million workforce housing complex and banquet hall on the site had been one of the cornerstone elements in the city’s successful $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative application in 2018.
But during several years worth of purchase option extensions political support for the project seemed to diminish, with some landlords and business owners publicly expressing concerns about what the project might mean for tenants and restaurant customers in the city.
In October 2018, 15-foot-deep oil contamination was discovered on the parcel. Former Mayor Michael Villa’s administration successfully argued the city council should grant KCG Development a purchase option extension, while cutting the company a break on the purchase option extension fees in exchange for KCG Development doing a surface remediation of the soil at the location. KCG Development has said the surface remediation cost $70,000, a point they often made when arguing the city should continue to grant it purchase option extensions while the company applied for $18 million worth of federal low income housing tax credits needed to finance construction of the building.
Ultimately, Deputy Mayor James Martuscello — who represents the 5th Ward, where the building would have been built — withdrew his support for another purchase option extension for the parcel, forcing KCG to either buy the land or walk away in December.
By April 2019, KCG Development was ready to walk away after having purchased the land.
Stacy Kaplowitz, the vice president for KCG Development, said she believed the project would not be awarded the $18 million in affordable housing credits it needs to finance the construction of the building without support from U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and Mayor Michael Cinquanti, both of whom have stated repeatedly they do not favor an apartment building on the parcel.
KCG Development attempted to get the Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency to purchase the parcel, but the county did not do it.
AIDA Board Chairman Joseph Emanuele said MCIDA CEO Ken Rose contacted him, and together they brokered discussions that resulted in Emanuele bringing consideration of the Chalmers parcel purchase to the AIDA board.
On Thursday night, the AIDA board met in the Amsterdam Common Council chambers, with several members teleconferencing into the meeting specifically to participate in the Chalmers vote.
Hiring C.T. Male Associates is only the first of several parts of a development plan AIDA has for the parcel, pending its purchase. In a summary of the “Deliverables and Costs” the board reviewed the plan for the property, which includes a total of $26,000 in spending for EAS plus these items, pending the purchase of the land:
- $8,000 for the development of a feasibility analysis;
- $4,200 for a design workshop;
- $10,600 for a site master plan;
- $1,500 for the development of site marketing materials.
Emanuele said having site control of the property is important for making sure the development of the land fits with the 2003 comprehensive plan’s vision for the parcel, as well as taking advantage of the Brownfield Opportunity Areas designation for the Chalmers site in 2015 and for the $10 million DRI projects tied to development of the parcel.
Emanuele said Amanda Bearcroft, the city’s director of community and economic development, will be crucial to making sure all of the available economic development support is brought to bear to developing the vacant land.
Bearcroft said officials from the state’s Empire State Development Corp. have assured her the $312,785 in DRI funding toward a $1 million project to “Transform the South Side into a walkable community,” which was to have included improvements to the sidewalks, streetscape, and civic spaces adjacent to the proposed Chalmers Mills Lofts apartment project — will still be made available to the city pending the creation of a master plan by AIDA for future redevelopment of the parcel.