SCHENECTADY – The Wedgeway Building, a once vibrant symbol of prosperity that has become the center of numerous city code violations in recent years, may soon be listed on the state and national historic registries.
The Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority is behind a monthslong effort to get the now-vacant property at 271-277 State St. listed on the registries as a way of unlocking a number of tax credits that can be used to rehab the building, according to Ray Gillen, president of Metroplex.
“One of the things that would help in the redevelopment of that site would be for it to be listed on the historic register so that someone who is interested in fixing it can benefit from state and federal tax credits that would be needed to restore a building like that,” he said.
A draft application was submitted to the state’s Historic Preservation Office last month and is set to be reviewed by the city’s Historic District Commission on Thursday. From there, a report will be created and additional information will be added to the application as necessary.
If the application is approved, the building, located at the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard, will be added to the state registry and sent to the national register for review.
Originally constructed in 1880, the Wedgeway Building has played a pivotal role in the city’s commercial development over the decades. The building was home to numerous retail stores and office buildings and once housed a pair of theaters, including Proctors and the State Theatre, according to the application.
“The Wedgeway Building is locally significant … due to its significant contribution to the commercial development within the City of Schenectady due to the scale of its commercial use, and the wide variety of services it provided to the community over an extended period of time,” the application reads.
In recent years, however, the building has been the center of numerous code violations and has sat empty since The Photo-Lab, which operated out of the building since 1949, closed late last year.
A slew of code violations handed down in recent months have yet to be remediated by the building’s current owner, William Eichengrun of 271-277 State LLC, according to Andrew Koldin, the city’s corporation counsel.
Eichengrun could not be reached for comment Monday.
But the property is in the process of being sold and has been in negotiations for the past six months, according to Chip Collins, vice president of investments for Marcus & Millichap, a New Jersey-based commercial real estate firm overseeing the building’s sale.
Collins declined to provide any additional information about the potential buyer, but noted numerous building inspections have delayed the sale, which could still fall through.
The building, which has been for sale since last March, has a listing price of $2.6 million.
Asked about how potentially adding the building to the state and national registries might impact the sale, Collins said he was unsure and that he was only just learning about the possibility.
“I don’t know anything about that, and that’s a good question; I’m going to have to find that out,” he said.
Gillen said he was unaware if Eichengrun knew of Metroplex’s efforts to add the building to the registry.
He noted efforts to add properties to the registry in a bid to redevelop them has been successful in the past, including the old St. Mary’s Catholic school, which was turned into an apartment complex.
“As a community, we know from many previous successful redevelopment projects that historic tax credits can be pivotal,” he said. “We’ve used this program numerous times. It’s a very important way to redevelop buildings like this.”
The State Historic Preservation Office “only advances nominations after receiving indications of property owner’s support,” according to an agency spokesperson, who said the application is still under review.
Restoring the Wedgeway Building is considered key to restoring lower State Street, which has seen millions in economic activity in recent years, including the Electric City Apartments complex and the Mill Artisan District.
The building is located across the street from the city’s train station, which was also refurbished in recent years.
The application notes the recent redevelopment efforts in the surrounding area in recent years and indicates the Wedgeway Building is primed to play a pivotal role in the city’s economic development.
“It now awaits a new use to once again be an important element in the economic development of the city,” the application reads.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.