SCHENECTADY — After his appliance warehouse/retail store on Crane Street caught fire, John D. Marcella said he’d either rebuild the old structure or tear it down and build something in its place.
“We’re going to figure it out. We’re not going to throw in the towel, though,” he said Oct. 13, a few hours after firefighters put out the flames.
As it turns out, the damage is too expensive to be worth fixing. Marcella’s Appliance Center now plans to tear it down and replace it.
“I’m not going to put a Band-Aid on the old building,” John Marcella said Wednesday. “It was just too much to try to get it back.”
Later Wednesday, the city Planning Board was scheduled to hear the proposal to demolish the existing structure at 810 Crane St. and replace it with a new warehouse and retail location.
Once city approval is received, demolition could come within 30 days, Marcella said, and then construction of the replacement should take about six months.
The old building was a furniture store before Marcella bought it. The appliance dealer’s main store was previously nearby, on the other side of Crane Street, but was relocated to a new, larger building on Broadway in 2010.
The building at 810 Crane St. served as a warehouse and a clearance center with scratch-and-dent items and other specials. Marcella planned to invest $250,000 in an aesthetic and functional overhaul, but not even three weeks after he announced his plans, fire broke out after water leaked into a light.
Flames damaged some parts of the building and the water that doused the flames damaged other parts; 150 appliances were ruined.
The new building will be roughly the same size as the old one, Marcella said — about 18,000 square feet. Preliminary feedback from the Planning Board called for some aesthetic tweaks to the storefront to make it look a little more retail and a little less warehouse, so those were made, he added.
The other big difference: The project price tag will be $1.3 million to $1.5 million instead of $250,000.
“It’s going to be very well-done and it’s going to be extremely expensive,” Marcella said.
Architect for the project is Mike Roman at C2 Architecture, who also designed the main store on Broadway.
The fire came at an inopportune time for Marcella’s Appliance, which has been busy at its Schenectady and Clifton Park stores — so much so that it had very limited inventory in the Crane Street store. Many people are investing in their homes during the COVID crisis, since they’re spending so much time there.
The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority had committed $50,000 for facade work on the renovation project, which sits in the Crane Street corridor the city and county have been working to improve.
The grant commitment remains, even through the renovation project won’t happen, Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said Wednesday.
“We are pleased to see Marcella’s moving ahead with a new building on Crane Street and Metroplex plans to continue to support the project with a $50,000 grant,” he said.