The city’s outdated Adirondack Trailways bus station is set to undergo a major makeover later this year, further bolstering redevelopment efforts on lower State Street.
The Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority approved a $50,000 matching grant toward façade improvements at the dingy bus station, located at 22 State Street.
“It’s all about momentum,” said Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen at a board meeting Wednesday. “One project leads to another. And that’s a busy station. So we basically said we need to improve this station, make the appearance of this station a lot better to fit in with all of the improvements in the area.”
The agreement was announced Wednesday with Adirondack Trailways, which owns the station that serves as both a Greyhound bus stop and a hub for the Capital District Transportation Authority.
The station upgrades will be designed by Stracher, Roth and Gilmore, a Schenectady-based architecture firm that helped design the new Albany International Airport terminal. The firm is currently developing plans for the site that include the new façade, interior improvements, new landscaping, signage and enhancements to the ticket area, waiting area and parking lots. Work will likely begin later this year and continue into 2013.
It’s long been a goal of the city to improve the bus station, which is situated between South Church and Railroad streets and was once a gas station.
Mayor Gary McCarthy welcomed news of the improvements in a release issued Wednesday.
“Adirondack Trailways has a long history of friendly service to the traveling public,” he said. “These upgrades to their facility will ensure a positive experience for years to come for individuals taking the bus.”
Gillen was reluctant to put a price tag on the project, which Adirondack Trailways will finance. He said it’s possible the cost would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Calls to Adirondack Trailways on Wednesday were referred to President Mark Boungard and Vice President for Marketing and Traffic Anne Noonan, who are out of the office for the week.
Noonan issued the following statement Wednesday:
“Adirondack Trailways is proud to be partnering with (Metroplex) to enhance and improve our facility at 22 State Street,” she said. “Trailways has served Schenectady for many decades and as good community citizens, we are pleased to have this opportunity to improve our property in a way that will benefit both Schenectady and Trailways.”
For a while, it was thought that the bus station could be consolidated into the new, intermodal Amtrak station to be built at Erie Boulevard and State Street, where a second railroad line is being planned for Schenectady. But Gillen said that when Metroplex and city officials were planning the new train station, they discovered the bus station wouldn’t fit there. However, plans for that station are still intermodal, meaning it will link both rail and bus service, which will now just include CDTA’s BusPlus service.
“The site did not work for both,” he said, citing limited space for buses to turn. “So once the decision was made not to consolidate both stations, we started asking Adirondack Trailways to consider making improvements to the bus station.”
City and county officials have focused redevelopment efforts in recent years on the lower State Street area, where plans for a renovated and expanded Liberty Park are under discussion, and an $11 million Schenectady County Community College housing complex and a $5 million new music wing are under construction.
Gillen said the agreement with Adirondack Trailways was reached about a week ago. It’s a positive step, he added, calling the station an important building to “the gateway of our community.”
“As development moves to lower State Street, we have been urging Trailways to upgrade the station for the past several years,” he said.
It will all add to the new look of downtown, county officials say — something that the upcoming construction on the massive Erie Boulevard project is heralding.
Metroplex Board member Janet Hutchinson said she used to frequent the bus station in the late 1960s.
“I’d come into the station and it looked exactly like it does now,” she said. “It hasn’t really changed.”