Large apartment projects proposed on Crane Street, Erie Boulevard in Schenectady

An architectural rendering shows the apartment buildings proposed on the 900 block of Crane Street in Schenectady by Rochester-based developer DePaul Properties.

An architectural rendering shows the apartment buildings proposed on the 900 block of Crane Street in Schenectady by Rochester-based developer DePaul Properties.

SCHENECTADY — Two significant rental housing proposals will get their first public review next week: Conversion of four existing commercial buildings into about 115 apartments at the foot of Erie Boulevard and construction of two buildings containing 60 apartments on the 900 block of Crane Street.

Both are slated for preliminary site plan review at the Nov. 17 meeting of the Schenectady Planning Commission.

ERIE BOULEVARD

The Erie Boulevard proposal by David Stern Construction involves the buildings at 104, 106, 108 and 112 Erie Blvd., plus 121 Edison Street, which is the expansive parking lot behind those buildings.

Charlie Attell, the company’s director of construction, said David Stern acquired the buildings years ago as part of a portfolio transaction. They were never fully occupied, he said, and probably were destined for conversion to something other than strictly commercial space.

The COVID pandemic caused the buildings to empty further and accelerated this evolution, Attell said, adding that the company decided to undertake the project itself rather than selling to another developer.

The plans are not finalized: There may be some commercial aspect remaining, if only a cafe or some flex space in the model of WeWork, Attell said.

“We’re planning on doing this conversion to mixed-use, primary focus on residential,” he said.

The budget could be in the $15 million range, and work could start in the summer of 2022. The completion date is unknown, as each of the four buildings is different, but it will be phased, so as not to flood the market with new rental units.

The vision is to double 104 Erie Blvd. to four stories and to do a significant restoration of the historic red brick building at 112 Erie Blvd., possibly with a public lobby displaying some of the history of the building and area.

The project would be the furthest expansion yet of residential space into downtown zones that are entirely commercial. Asked about the ambient noise — the site is flanked by an active rail line, Interstate 890, and a busy stretch of Erie Boulevard — Attell said modern soundproofing will negate the noise. 

“We’re far enough from the highway,” he said.

CRANE STREET

The Crane Street project is in Mont Pleasant, which the city, county, Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority and Capital Region Land Bank have been targeting for demolition and improvement, hoping to generate momentum in the private sector.

Seven of the nine parcels are already vacant; two contain structures that would be demolished.

DePaul Properties of Rochester, the same developer that built the Joseph L. Allen Apartments on Albany Street in Hamilton Hill, is under contract to buy 914, 918, 924, 932, 938, 944, 956 and 1002 Crane St., plus 933 Pleasant St., which would become a driveway to parking and greenspace in the rear of the two apartment buildings. Project cost is expected to exceed $15 million.

All but one parcel is owned by the city or Metroplex, which are selling them for $165,301, the assessed value of the land, with DePaul paying for any demolition or cleanup needed.

Gillian Conde, vice president at DePaul, said the proposal is for 60 apartments in a three-story building and a four-story building, a few of them two-bedroom units but the bulk studio and one-bedroom apartments.

“This is attracting an adult population, people who want to age in their communities,” she said. Rental preference would be given to senior citizens and veterans.

The apartments would be designated workforce housing, midmarket units targeted to people who work but don’t earn a huge salary. Income limits would be 60% of the county median: $40,200 for one person and $57,360 for a family of four. Rent would be $750 to $850 a month with free utilities, WiFi and laundry.

The project, which doesn’t have a name yet, would be supportive housing, with a 24-hour presence of someone serving as a social worker, connecting people to services they need but may not get on their own.

“Homelessness prevention is the goal,” Conde said. “The tripwires can be very small.”

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