Intermittent bike path closures in April near Niskayuna construction site

The Mohawk Hudson Bike Hike Trail is shown Tuesday in the vicinity of the new Rivers Ledge housing development under construction in Niskayuna. 

The Mohawk Hudson Bike Hike Trail is shown Tuesday in the vicinity of the new Rivers Ledge housing development under construction in Niskayuna. 

NISKAYUNA — The new Rivers Ledge rental community is taking shape between Aqueduct Road and the Mohawk River near the Rexford Bridge, with foundations poured and the first building erected.

The nearby Mohawk-Hudson Bike Hike Trail will be closed at times for much of April as two roads are built across the trail and into the site. How long the intermittent closures continue depends significantly on how many rainy days there are this month.

Walkers and bikers already will have noticed two gravel patches on the trail just west of where it crosses Aqueduct Road; whether the spots were passable often depended on the time of day and the work being done.

The town of Niskayuna and Schenectady County said in a news release Tuesday that signs have been placed at the two nearest road crossings — Aqueduct Road and Anthony Street — advising of the situation. Closures will be intermittent and limited to weekdays, they said, and be done by April 30.

Chuck Pafundi, head of real estate development for Luizzi Companies, the developer, said Tuesday that the work affecting the trail should be done by mid- to late April, weather permitting.

He also provided an update on the 28-acre, 160-unit project, which was conceived five years ago, when Peter Luizzi inspected the automotive scrapyard that occupied the location for decades. Cleanup work began in 2019, with removal of piles and piles of scrap tires. There were no surprises, good or bad: No rare cars were hiding in the weeds, no oil or antifreeze contamination had seeped into the groundwater.

A lengthy halt amid the COVID pandemic pushed the timetable back. Last autumn and winter were devoted to shaping the site — blasting 70,000 tons of bluestone and shale rock, crushing it and using it for road base and grading.

Then the construction began. One of the 10-unit apartment buildings is fully framed and partially enclosed and the foundations of seven others are poured for Phase I. When the first is finished, it will serve as a model for prospective tenants while the seven other buildings are being finished, along with a clubhouse and pool. 

The goal is completion and occupancy of Phase I by late 2021.

Phase II will start then, identical to Phase I except without a second clubhouse. A potential Phase III is still in the planning stages, and would entail senior housing.

The 160 apartments in Phases I and II are being classified as luxury units; monthly rental costs have not been determined yet.

Construction vehicles are now using the old junkyard entrance to get in and out of the site. When the two new roads across the bike hike trail are complete, the junkyard entrance will be closed.

The public will gain additional access to the waterfront as part of the project: Luizzi didn’t do any grading or blasting along the Mohawk River, and will build a branch trail from the bike hike trail to the riverfront.

This new trail will continue on to the Aqueduct Park.

The developer will add some features to the park too, and recycle a bit of history to do it: The blocks of the old Rexford Aqueduct were stacked up nearby after the arched span was partly demolished in 1918.

“It almost looked like Amazon ruins,” Pafundi said.

Benches, planters and an overlook will be fabricated out of the stones, some of which weigh several tons.

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