Schenectady

College to lease gym, offices at former Schenectady YMCA

A construction manager stands in the gym at the former Schenectady YMCA at 13 State St. in this 2017 Gazette file photo. The space will be renovated for use by SUNY Schenectady County
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A construction manager stands in the gym at the former Schenectady YMCA at 13 State St. in this 2017 Gazette file photo. The space will be renovated for use by SUNY Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY — The last remaining piece of 13 State St. still resembling its days as a YMCA will be converted for use by SUNY Schenectady County.

The old high-ceiling gym will become practice, performance and exhibit space for the college’s arts and music programs, and is anticipated to also host public events. The former YMCA staff offices nearby will be used as college faculty and staff offices with an available conference room.

The college announced the plans Tuesday along with Norstar Development USA, the company that redeveloped the rest of the YMCA into senior apartments, and with the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, which helped advance the sale of the building to Norstar and helped bring the apartment project to fruition.

Norstar completed conversion of most of the 104,000-square-foot building and welcomed tenants into the 61 below-market-rate apartments in early 2018. 

The building soon was full, and today there is a waiting list.

Soon after in 2018, Metroplex announced a tenant for the 8% of the building that was awaiting renovation: The gym, fitness center and offices.

That tenant was SUNY Schenectady County. 

But the college and Norstar couldn’t agree on final details, Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said Tuesday, and the two sides suspended talks. The plan went into limbo as Buffalo-based Norstar focused on projects elsewhere.

More recently, the college and developer began negotiating again and reached an agreement.
“SUNY Schenectady is located so close to 13 State St. that leasing this wonderful space so close to the college was an easy decision,” SUNY Schenectady President Steady Moono said in a news release.

Norstar to date has spent more than $18 million on the renovation of the building. Bonacio Construction of Saratoga Springs will complete the final portion at a cost of nearly $600,000. Metroplex will provide an $18,000 grant for that work.

“We appreciate Norstar’s great work in restoring 13 State St.,” Gillen said. “We wanted to restore the gym and have it serve as another attraction on lower State Street. We also appreciate Norstar providing a below-market lease rate, making the space very affordable for SUNY Schenectady.”

Metroplex is more directly involved in this project than in many others: It holds a long-term lease on the 8,000 square feet of vacant space in the former YMCA, with rent amounting to about $40,000 a year, and it is subleasing it to the college. 

This type of master lease is one more tool in the development agency’s toolbox, and in this case, it helped fulfill requirements for Norstar’s tax credit applications, Gillen said, adding that it has been used on some other downtown projects.

Norstar did not charge Metroplex for the four years the space sat unrenovated and vacant.

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