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Downtown Schenectady plan approved

Downtown Schenectady plan approved

The crumbling buildings — deemed so ugly they had to be covered with black mesh — will soon be repla

The crumbling buildings — deemed so ugly they had to be covered with black mesh — will soon be replaced by an unusual and “lovely” new design, Schenectady Planning Commission members said Wednesday.

They approved the new Clinton Square project — which will replace Pizza King and the adjacent buildings at the corner of State and Clinton streets — without a single criticism.

“It is a lovely building in design. Thank you for your attention to detail,” said commission Chairwoman Sharran Coppola. “Architecturally, it’s very interesting.”

The project was nearly a year in the making. Metroplex Development Authority Vice President Scott Cietek said the architects went through eight or more renderings as they tried to find the best way to showcase the downtown corner.

“I think the end result will be pretty spectacular,” he said.

The agency is spending $900,000 of public money to remove asbestos on the Pizza Block buildings before demolition, and Metroplex will use a $1.4 million state RestoreNY grant to demolish the buildings. It also spent $110,000 to buy out and relocate Pizza King Jon Camaj, the only remaining tenant in the dilapidated buildings.

The new $3.2 million structure will have three distinct facades, masking its length by making it appear to be three buildings. But behind the facades will be one structure with retail on the first floor and offices above.

Much of the facades will be done in brick, said owner Michael Roman. The westernmost building will have “old, historic brick detailing,” he said.

“We really want to keep with the streetscape,” he added. The downtown has brick-inlay along the sidewalks.

He thinks the building will be so beautiful that he wants passers-by to be able to see it all night long.

“We really want to illuminate the streetscape and the building itself,” he said, to strong approval from the commission.

The corner building will be moved back from the curb, creating a 12-foot space that could be valuable for a retail tenant, he said.

“It’s kind of like a little terrace.”

Coppola clearly has plans for that space already.

“What a great place to watch the parade from!” she said.

The only request the commission had was to engrave the street names on the sides of the building, as was done on the downtown Department of Transportation office. That office is also on a corner.

The existing buildings are slated for demolition in March. Workers are removing asbestos now. Construction is expected to take 10 months.

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