Apartments, event venue nearly complete in downtown Schenectady

Jeff Buell stands in the living room of a fourth-floor apartment at 132 Broadway on Thursday.
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Jeff Buell stands in the living room of a fourth-floor apartment at 132 Broadway on Thursday.

The development team that has turned many non-residential properties into downtown rental apartments is wrapping up one of its more challenging projects.

Redburn Development Partners has converted an old carpet store and newspaper press building at 132 and 136 Broadway into 11 apartments and a ground-floor event space.

The property is dubbed 132 Broadway. It is neither the biggest nor hardest project Redburn has ever attempted — principal Jeff Buell said the landmark Foster Building on State Street was more complicated, expensive and time-consuming.

But the solid construction and oddly contorted spaces at the old Schenectady Gazette printing press building couldn’t easily be reconfigured. As a result, there was no interior demolition performed in the building, which is unusual in such a transformation.

Buell said Thursday that Redburn revised the design repeatedly after it purchased the building, which is a first for the developer — they always have a plan they think will work before investing, and then execute it after purchasing.

Redburn went through multiple designs with as many as 26 apartments before settling on the final configuration: Four huge units and seven smaller units.

Rent will range from $895 a month for a studio apartment to $2,500 for a 1,500-square-foot three-bedroom apartment. Expected move-in date is June 1.

The event space is still under wraps and also will make its debut in June.

With concrete walls and floors, the apartments by necessity have an industrial aesthetic, and Redburn left some surfaces rough to accentuate that. Large windows on the east face let abundant light into the space.

Work began in the summer of 2020, after COVID workplace restrictions were lifted but also after building material prices soared. This complicated the project, which is now expected to run $4.1 million, about 25% more than initially projected.

Redburn has several other projects underway, including in Albany and Troy. In Schenectady, it’s working on the former OTB building and 501 State St., and will soon begin work at 500 State St.

The OTB building, 132 Broadway and a previously completed project, the Fitzgerald Building, all have a common thread: None are on State Street. Expanding development off the main drag and onto the side streets is key to fully revitalizing downtown, said Buell, who has made the renaissance of downtown living a focus of his career.

The buildings at 132 and 136 Broadway are separate but connected, in more ways than one, and they’ve had a convoluted recent history.

The four-story building at 132 Broadway originally housed the printing press and warehouse of the Schenectady Gazette newspaper when its newsroom and offices were nearby on State Street. The newspaper rebranded as The Daily Gazette, moved to a new building on Maxon Road Extension, and donated the press building to the YMCA in 1990.

The one-story building at 136 Broadway originally was the Skypes Carpet store, and most recently was home to the Electric City Bike Rescue.

The city acquired both buildings and sold them for $1 each in 2005 to the Edison Tech Center for its museum of electrical history. Unhappy with Edison’s stewardship of the site, the city sued over contract terms and regained ownership of the buildings in 2018.

The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, which has been assisting with the redevelopment, hauled out 20 tons of cast-off items and debris after Edison Tech moved its collection out.

Redburn purchased the buildings and has now brought them to the start of their next chapter.

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