Schenectady Planning Commission receptive to proposed apartment complexes

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 — The Planning Commission on Wednesday got its first look at a pair of proposed apartment developments that will bring nearly 200 living units to the city along Crane Street and Erie Boulevard.

The projects are still in the preliminary stages, but one developer, DePaul Properties of Rochester, is hoping to gain full site-plan approval in December after securing a zoning variance that will allow a 71-spot parking lot to be constructed near a residential neighborhood later this month.

DePaul, the company that built the Joseph L. Allen Apartments along Albany Street, is seeking to construct a three- and four-story building on eight parcels along the 900 block of Crane Street.

The parcels — which include 914, 918, 924, 932, 938, 944, 956 and 1002 Crane St. — are currently owned by Metroplex, though DePaul is under contract to purchase the properties for $165,301, the assessed value of the land.

In addition, the company is also seeking to purchase 933 Pleasant St., which will be used to create an entrance into the housing facility’s parking lot, according to Daniel Brocht, a project manager for LaBella, a engineering firm that designed the project.

Seven of the nine lots are currently vacant.

The proposed project would consist of workforce housing, which caters to those who earn 60% of the average income in the county, which is $40,200 for one person in Schenectady County, according to Dan Glading, an architect with the Rochester firm SWBR.

Glading said the three-story building would consist of 17 apartments while the larger four-story facility would have 43 units. Most of the units would be studio and one-bedrooms, he said.

The units would be marketed toward seniors and veterans, though anyone who meets the income requirements would be able to apply, according to Brocht.

The project would eliminate five curb cuts along Crane Street, in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood, creating additional on-street parking.

A building at 944 Crane St., which houses a convenience store and a small laundromat and sits between where the two proposed buildings would stand, would be allotted seven parking spaces in the complex’s parking lot.

Each building would have a laundry center on each floor and would use keycard entry with maintenance staff on site.

A final plan has yet to be unveiled, though commission members and neighbors seemed to be in support of the project.

Patricia Smith, president of the Mont Pleasant Neighborhood Association, said she supports the project but raised concerns about the parking lot entrance along Pleasant Street.

The roadway is narrow and increased traffic would impact the quality of life of those living on the street, particularly at night when headlights may shine through windows, she said.

“There are some nice houses there and it is a small street, so I’m really not enthused about the traffic on that small street,” Smith said.

Brocht said he would look into adding fencing and repositioning the entryway in order to minimize the impact for neighbors.

He added that the company takes concerns seriously and is committed to working with neighbors to ensure a satisfactory outcome for everyone.

“I’ve been working with DePaul for almost a decade myself as part of my firm, and they care about neighbors,” he said.

The project is expected to come before the Planning Commission again next month.

Erie Boulevard 

The project along Erie Boulevard, proposed by David Stern Construction, is still in the early stages of development, though initial plans would dramatically alter the corridor.

The current proposal calls for somewhere between 115 and 120 apartment units to be constructed throughout four buildings: 104, 106, 108 and 112 Erie Boulevard.

The company acquired the properties a number of years ago. None of the buildings were occupied, and have since emptied when the pandemic set in last year.

In addition to the buildings, the company owns 121 Edison St., a sprawling parking lot located behind the four buildings that can accommodate 240 parking spaces, far more than what’s needed, according to Charlie Attar, the director of construction for the company.

Attar said the company is trying to figure out how to reduce the number of spaces by adding green space and an outdoor exercise area for residents, though nothing has been finalized.

The company is also looking at incorporating some kind of commercial space into the units, including a shared office space similar to WeWork. Attar noted that developing commercial space is difficult along that stretch of Erie Boulevard, but said the company has discussed potentially reducing rent to attract a café or juice bar, which would benefit residents.

Plans currently call for doubling the size of 104 Erie Blvd. to four stories, and fully restoring 112 Erie Blvd., a historic building constructed in the early days of General Electric.

Attar said the plans are to make it appear as though the four buildings belong to the same unit, though planning commissioners suggested the company refurbish the properties and make each one unique, which would help the properties stand out.

Attar said the company is open to feedback.

“I’ll tell you honestly, I actually like your feedback a lot when I look at the building,” he said.

It’s unclear when the project will appear before the Planning Commission again.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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