NISKAYUNA — The Rivers Ledge Apartments — delayed by COVID, sitting on a terraced ledge blasted from solid rock, and packed with technology — now has its first tenants.
One of the 14 apartment buildings overlooking the Mohawk near the Rexford Bridge received a certificate of occupancy on Friday and the first tenants moved in Saturday.
The other 13 are in various stages of completion and construction of two more hasn’t begun yet. But by the end of this year, Phase I of the luxury development should be complete, with 160 units, a pool, a clubhouse and a fitness center.
Luizzi Companies, the developer, has begun discussions with town planning officials about Phase II and submitted conceptual plans.
Chuck Pafundi, director of real estate development for Luizzi, said Friday that there are 25 signed leases and 45 people on the waiting list for yet-unfinished apartments in buildings expected to be completed at a rate of about one a month through the end of 2022.
BBL is the general contractor and M&T is financing the project.
All are one- and two-bedroom units with balcony or patio and garage. Rents range from $1,500 to $2,700 a month depending on square footage and view.
The cost of construction for Phase I will total about $45 million — more than expected when Luizzi started cleaning up the former auto scrapyard on site in 2018, but just about what the square footage and quality level would cost to build now, thanks to COVID-era price hikes and shortages in materials, Pafundi said.
“The cost of material went up substantially since COVID. Fuel is one of the factors behind everything,” he said.
COVID also cost the developer the 2020 construction season.
“We actually shut this down — this was considered nonessential work,” Pafundi said. “So what you’re seeing here is just about one year’s work.”
Walking through the site Friday, he pointed out some features:
- Each public door is opened with an electronic fob, and each building’s front door has a smart screen that links to tenants’ smartphones so they can see their visitors’ faces.
- A small server farm in a central location is the brain of Rivers Ledge, running all the technology on site — fire detection, security cameras and internet access.
- A central office contains a package room where all the e-commerce deliveries can wait for pickup.
- The high-ceiling clubhouse has expansive views of a new park and the river beyond.
- Bike-hike trails thread through the site and connect to the Mohawk Hudson Bike-Trail running almost uninterrupted from Cohoes to Little Falls.
The rock underlying the site was a bear, accounting for a full $600,000 of the budget. But Luizzi was creative with it, using slender explosive charges for directional blasting that would cleave sheer rock faces and eliminate the need to build retaining walls. Then they ran the rubble through their mobile rock crusher and voila: They had the base for their roadways on site.
“We recycled it, essentially,” Pafundi said.
And they had a lot to recycle: “There’s a lot of terrain changes throughout this complex,” he said.
Winter — a real winter — is finally upon us, and the site will retain its mud-and-gravel aesthetic until the landscaping can be installed in spring.
The temporary certificate of occupancy issued by the town will be converted to permanent when the exterior aesthetics are completed as outlined in the plans.