SCHENECTADY — A sturdy old downtown building repurposed several times in its first century will mark its 99th birthday with its most ambitious reiteration yet: as apartments.
The circa-1923 building at 192 Erie Blvd. got its certificate of occupancy as Canal Lofts on Nov. 12 and got its first-ever residential tenant soon after.
A week later, four of the 32 apartments were occupied and a lease was signed for the fifth, developer Christopher Maddalone said Thursday.
Hudson Partners Development, part of Maddalone & Associates, bought the building for $2 million and spent just over $6 million on converting the lower three floors to commercial space and the top four floors into one-bedroom apartments.
Major work done
The exterior makeover was more cosmetic than functional, but a roof patio and dog park were added, while three overhead doors were retained for the future commercial tenants.
The work cost more than originally projected and took longer than expected: 14 months, thanks to a COVID shutdown in 2020 and then a delay in wiring the building into the power grid.
With gas-fired tankless heaters in every apartment supplying hot water and heat, and new windows holding the heat in, the project qualified for funding under the PACE model — property assessed clean energy.
It did not, however, qualify for historic preservation funding. There had been too many changes in the first 95 years.
The building started off as a five-story department store in 1923, which explains its solid concrete construction and 10-foot ceilings. It later became a headquarters of Trustco Bank, which added two stories with similar concrete construction.
After Trustco moved its home office to Glenville, Schenectady County bought the building in 2005 for potential courtroom space but wound up using it mostly for storage.
Somewhere along the way, a dry cleaner and gas station had operated on-site or nearby. The county had to clean up contamination left behind.
The county agreed to sell the site to Hudson Partners in 2018.
Maddalone started off in third-party property management in the Capital Region and, through Hudson Partners, has moved into housing development.
Hudson Partners has undertaken multiple projects in the region, many involving repurposing of old buildings.
The building at 200 State St., for example, was Schenectady’s original YMCA and was later the Spencer Business School. It now contains 11 apartments.
This year, Hudson began work on an 88-unit apartment complex on vacant land at the northern tip of Schenectady.
Either type of development, ground-up or renovation, can be more economical than the other, depending on the situation, Maddalone said. New construction is usually easier, but renovation is usually more interesting.
“I love these renovation projects,” he said. “Ground-up is easy because there are no real unknowns once you get out of the ground. Here, you never know what you’re going to get once you start tearing down walls.”
There was a large vault in the former Trustco building, not surprisingly. Also, the foundation of the building that stood at 198 Erie Blvd. before 1923 remained. But there were few pieces of the past left after so many renovations.
A former piano factory in Albany’s Warehouse District that Hudson Partners converted to apartments was loaded with artifacts, Maddalone said.
And 200 State St. presented some interesting pieces of the past, too.
“In that building we found two mosaic tile pools in the basement,” Maddalone said. “Nobody knew they were there — we knocked down the wall and there they were. They’re still there — really cool.
“In that building we found an old vault, too. I still have the door down in the basement. Old Utica Club cans in the walls.
“So that’s why I say I love these projects.”