The new Golub headquarters on Nott Street will be built with such strict environmental controls that it will qualify for the country’s gold standard in “green” design, officials said Wednesday.
The $22 million campus will include a stormwater treatment system to avoid sending salt and oil into the Mohawk River through the city’s stormwater pipes. Among the other features, trees will frame the site and windows will be used to catch every ray of sunlight possible, reducing the need for artificial light. Golub is partnering with the state Energy Research and Development Authority to develop the state-of-the-art building.
But most important of all, the corporate parent of Price Chopper supermarkets is turning a long-vacant brownfield into a viable site, officials told the Schenectady Planning Commission during the project’s review.
“[The site’s] not real attractive. We’re going to do a good job to clean that up,” said Troy Wojciekofsky, senior project manager for Fuss & O’Neill.
A wrought-iron fence will surround the property, mimicking the Union College fence across the street, and the Hess station will be demolished to make way for Golub’s 240,000-square-foot building. It will house 720 employees, who will access the site via Maxon Road to avoid backups along busy Nott Street. Maxon Road will become a privately owned street and will have a one-way exit onto Erie Boulevard. The headquarters is now in Rotterdam, near Golub’s grocery shipping hub.
For workers who want to walk to nearby shops and restaurants, Golub will add new sidewalks on Nott Street and Peek Street — the proposed location of the new Schenectady YMCA. Golub is in serious talks with the YMCA about day care and corporate memberships for its employees, officials told the commission.
The building itself is still being designed as engineers work out the best environmental approaches, but the commission approved the project anyway, based on exterior sketches.
“I like the design,” said commission member Brad Lewis. “I think it’s going to make it look more like a campus.”
Chairwoman Sharran Coppola added, “We wish you well. This is an exciting time for Schenectady.”
The commission was reviewing plans for more than $35 million in private development for the city — the most it has ever reviewed in one session, said Metroplex Development Authority Vice President Scott Cietek.
All of the big projects were sponsored by Metroplex, and all won easy approval.
ACTION ON BROADWAY
Of the big projects, the commission spent the most time looking at plans for the former Schenectady International buildings at 797 Broadway, considered an entranceway to the city.
One of the three SI buildings has already been demolished and a second one will be renovated for the county Department of Social Services, which will consolidate several offices there, including the Nott Street center. The third and biggest building still has no tenant, officials said.
Developing the site has been tricky because of the unstable hillside directly behind it. Schenectady County plans to diminish the groundwater that undermines the slope by collecting the water and funneling it into the city’s stormwater system.
The county also plans to make the hill flatter, a project that involves buying and demolishing four buildings on Bluff Road.
Work is expected to begin in early summer. The project has been funded with a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
That wasn’t the only problem the new owners of the site had to solve. Architect Frank Gilmore had to track down the cause of the deteriorating stucco on the 45,000-square-foot building that will become the new DSS offices. The previous owner, Uncle Sam’s House, couldn’t fix the problem, but Gilmore said rainwater was the culprit.
“Water had penetrated through the walls,” he said, blaming the problem on a leaky roof and poor flashing. “That will all be resolved. It will make a very nice corporate office building.”
Since the big building is seen by many visitors as they enter the city, Gilmore also wants to light it up at night, creating an entranceway “presence.”
“I think it will be very attractive,” he said.
Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said, “It just cleans up one of the gateways to the city. You see it from I-890. It looks tired now.”
County officials said the hillside is not in imminent danger of collapse. But the combination of soils and the area’s high water table could lead to a landslide like one that swallowed an excavator off Interstate 890 in February 2007. No one was hurt.