Schenectady

Mexican Radio remains open in Schenectady as building offered for sale

PETER R. BARBER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERThe Mexican Radio Restaurant at Broadway and State Street in Schenectady is shown Nov. 4, 2020.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

PETER R. BARBER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The Mexican Radio Restaurant at Broadway and State Street in Schenectady is shown Nov. 4, 2020.

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, Business, News

SCHENECTADY — A prominent corner of downtown Schenectady is on the market for $2.95 million.

Mexican Radio, the restaurant at 325 State St., continues in operation three months after the building was listed for sale on Aug. 6.

The owners of the restaurant, who also own the building, could not be reached for comment Tuesday, a day when Mexican Radio is normally closed.

Its website and Facebook page offer no indication of impending changes in operation.

The building, with its colorful exterior and prime location at the corner of State Street and Broadway, is a prominent part of the revitalization that the core of downtown Schenectady has enjoyed in the last 15 years.

It previously hosted the OTB Imperial Racing Center, and long ago, the Imperial Cloak Co., an upscale department store.

Lori Selden and Mark Young initially tried in 2010 to make the site the third location of their Mexican-themed restaurant business. That deal fell through, but in 2012, the plan got back on track: Selden and Young bought the building for $475,000 and spent $3 million to renovate it before their grand opening in mid-2014.

The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority gutted it and removed the asbestos at a cost of $175,000, as part of the deal.

The property, which had been tax-exempt under OTB ownership, now holds a partial tax exemption that is gradually decreasing through 2026, when it will be taxed at full assessed value (currently $2,474,760).

GROWTH, CONTRACTION

Mexican Radio originated in 1996 in Manhattan and took its name from a song by Wall of Voodoo.

Selden and Young opened a second location in Hudson in 2003, after the couple relocated to the nearby town of Stuyvesant.

The Manhattan restaurant closed in 2017, with a parting message on its website blaming high cost of rent, wages and overhead in New York City. (Restaurant workers in the city were beginning at that point to see substantial increases in their pay under state minimum wage rules.)

The Hudson location closed in 2019. A message about the Hudson closure on the restaurant’s website cited President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration, saying many employees and been “forcibly and violently ejected from this country, tearing the very soul out of our kitchen staff.”

THE STATE OF STATE

Meanwhile, another prominent State Street address is offered for sale: SEFCU Square, at 469 State St., on the corner with Clinton Street. A SEFCU branch and Zen Asian Fusion Lounge occupy much the street level; SEFCU offices occupy most of the upper floors.

CBRE has it listed at $4.55 million. Owner is HB Diamond Development, an LLC connected to prominent Schenectady developer Highbridge Development. It is fully leased except for a small area near the third-floor balcony that is suggested for residential conversion or additional office space.

Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said two listings don’t equal a trend — there is not a rush to sell off downtown real estate eight months after the COVID-19 crisis began to curtail or even eliminate the vibrancy that created and sustained the rebirth of downtown Schenectady.

Multiple projects are in planning, underway, or recently completed, he noted, including two new restaurants and hundreds of units of rental housing.

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