SCHENECTADY — A deal announced Thursday could result in the Stadium Golf Club being converted to a mixed-use commercial/industrial park.
Third-generation owner Greg Hennel and developer Scannell Properties said the 2022 golf season would continue as normal but the two would look at development opportunities after the season is over.
A significant precondition would be rezoning the site from multifamily residential to commercial, a lengthy and detailed process that would have to be pursued successfully in both the city of Schenectady and the town of Rotterdam.
Hennel said he’s operating on a whole-season time frame. Once he makes commitments and starts signing contracts to operate the next year, no development will start until that next season is complete.
Hennel said there could be more seasons of golf beyond next year, if the sale doesn’t go through quickly.
“I’ve been hearing rumors it’s sold,” he said. “It’s not sold, this is not a done deal. There’s a lot of reasons why this might not happen, but if it does, we’ll move forward.”
Zachary Zweifler, development manager for Scannell, said the rezoning is crucial. The project might include some combination of retail, commercial, light industrial and research/development, but Scannell won’t be building housing on site.
Without a timetable set or details in place about the structures to be built, Scannell can’t predict what tenants might be interested, Zweifler said, but with full utilities on site, it would be a fit for many industry sectors.
He added that there’s excellent access from Route 7 and Interstate 890, and excellent visibility to a large number of passing motorists. Plus, it’s a huge site.
“One hundred sixteen acres in a spot this urban doesn’t come along very often,” Zweifler said. “It’s an exciting opportunity for us.”
Stadium Golf Club today is consistently one of the busiest golf courses in the region, for several reasons.
It’s easy to get to and relatively easy to play. Without any bunkers, a round of golf goes quicker at Stadium, and more people can cycle through the course. Also, the sandy soil drains quickly after a rainstorm.
“It’s not brutal to the average golfer,” Hennel said. “There’s certainly opportunities to lose a ball but not many. I call it a user-friendly course. And we have an unbelievable staff — we would not have survived for 56 years if we didn’t have great people.”
The original nine-hole Stadium golf course was created next to McNearney Stadium after the minor-league Schenectady Blue Jays stopped playing there in 1957.
Greg Hennel’s grandfather Edmund bought it in 1965, the year Greg was born, and it’s been a family operation ever since.
Greg’s father, Roger, stopped working at Edmund’s nearby service station and started at the golf course in 1973.
Greg grew up at Stadium, working at the golf course and riding dirt bikes on adjacent undeveloped land Edmund owned until the family built the second nine holes on it. Expanding to 18 holes took until the late 1980s because the family was doing the work themselves; Greg’s uncle Douglas did the design work.
Greg’s mother, Barbara, also worked at Stadium. After Roger and Barbara passed, Greg and his brother Gary ran Stadium.
It’s now Greg and his wife, Michele. A motorcycle accident claimed Gary in 2014.
Hennel said he could run the golf course another 20 years, and is buying replacement equipment so he can continue beyond 2022 if need be.
But time is catching up with him, and he’s ready to sell.
“I’m 56, I’ve got bulging discs but I’m still out there chopping trees and digging ditches,” he said. “The body’s starting to fail. At some point, I’ve got to start looking at the future.”
Scannell and Hennel had lengthy discussions before reaching the deal announced Thursday.
Since 1990, Indianapolis-based Scannell has completed over 470 development projects totaling 130 million square feet, among them the Amazon distribution facility in Rensselaer County. Potential future projects in this region include more warehouse space nearby in Rensselaer County and a major distribution center in Malta.
Hennel said he researched Scannell’s work elsewhere and found it top-rate.
“I wouldn’t have entered into anything with them if I didn’t think it was going to be of utmost quality,” he said. “If they decide to do this, it would be a huge benefit to the community.”