Schenectady County Community College is no longer interested in acquiring the Schenectady Armory, which will be auctioned in November. Instead, an effort is under way to find a private buyer.
The state Office of General Services has set a date of Nov. 17 to auction the 65,000-square-foot facility at 125 Washington Ave. The Division of Military and Naval Affairs has declared the building abandoned and turned the building over to OGS, according to a public notice.
The auction will be held at SCCC in Room 101 of the Stockade Building. Registration starts at 10:30 a.m.
The college had previously expressed interest in the building. SCCC’s master plan called for the creation of a “Liberty Quad” with new academic buildings and an athletic building, as well as student housing. The armory is just across Washington Avenue from the campus.
However, school spokeswoman Heather Meaney on Thursday said simply, “at this time, SCCC is not pursuing the armory.”
Board of Trustees Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said the property is conveniently located but it would be cost-prohibitive to buy. She said in an e-mail that even if it were sold to the college for $1, the costs for upgrades to the heating and cooling system, as well as making it energy-efficient, are beyond SCCC’s means.
The college had used the building for basketball practices and games for 38 years, until last November, when the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs ordered all shows and community events there to cease. Military officials were concerned that the $30,000-a-year lease SCCC paid was not sufficient to cover its costs and were ordered by Gov. David Paterson to cut costs because of the state budget squeeze.
The SCCC Royals basketball team played much of last season at the Albany armory.
Center City games
The college’s need for athletic facilities has since lessened. On Monday, the Board of Trustees formally approved a lease agreement with the YMCA to use its new Center City facility downtown for basketball practices and home games. The cost of the lease is $40,000 per year. SCCC President Quintin B. Bullock had sought a more high-profile location for the Royals’ games.
Even if they are not interested in the armory, college officials are planning for other expansion. They are continuing negotiations to obtain financing for a project to build a 313-bed dormitory next to the armory at 117 Washington Ave. They have been working with M&T Bank. Bullock was optimistic that the deal would be done soon.
The college is also working to acquire the former gas station property across the street but has not yet specified a use for it.
Metroplex Development Authority Director Ray Gillen said there is an active effort to redevelop the armory.
“We have several prospective purchasers that are interested in the property,” he said. “We’ve had great cooperation with the Office of General Services in finding a new use for the building.”
He could not discuss specifics: “When we have a signed deal, we’ll talk about it publicly.”
David Buicko, chief operating officer for the Galesi Group, said he was not aware of the property being put on the auction block.
“I haven’t given any thought to it. We’ll take a look at it as we take a look at everything the state sells,” he said.
Officials at the Edison Steinmetz Center — formerly known as the Edison Exploratorium — had also expressed interest in the building. President Thurston Sack could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
$500K and up
The minimum bid on the property is $500,000, and a 10 percent down payment is required, according to Chuck Sheifer, chief of the OGS bureau of land management. Anyone can bid.
“You have to show up with a certified check for $50,000, and that way you can register and bid. No check, no bid,” he said.
Following the auction, the bids will be presented to Commissioner John Egan, who makes the decision on what bid is accepted. Sheifer said the agency must do a background check: “If something shows up that seems to be of concern, we have the authority to reject any or all bids.”
The process takes about two weeks. The person with the winning bid must come up with 10 percent of the total price. For example, if the winning bid were $600,000, an additional $10,000 would be needed in addition to the $50,000 already paid at the auction.
Then, the closing would take place within 120 days of the auction. The state comptroller and attorney general’s office must review the contract.
The size of the lot is 1.9 acres. The building is 73 years old, Sheifer said: “It’s in very good condition.”
OGS spokesman Brad Maione said there have been two open houses for the property. The next one will take place on Oct. 9 from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
The last New York National Guard units left the facility on Aug. 1 of last year. The 501st Explosive Ordnance Battalion and the 127-member E Company 427th Support Battalion moved to the new Armed Forces Reserve Center at the Schenectady County Airport. The third unit, the 206th Military Police Company, moved to a new facility in Latham.