Forum Industries is once again back in the picture for the decades-long effort to breathe new life into Rotterdam’s dilapidated Curry Road Shopping Center.
The Clifton Park-based Forum appears to be developer of choice for the town, after Columbia Development abruptly pulled its $1.23 million mixed-use proposal this week. Forum has proposed paying the town $375,000 for the vacant 12-acre site so that the long-dormant plaza can be demolished and redeveloped into a mix of commercial buildings and 180 units of affordable senior housing.
Andrew Sciocchetti, Forum’s president, said the $20 million project he envisions will fill a growing demand for senior housing in Rotterdam.
“There’s a market for it,” he said after pitching the proposal during Wednesday’s Town Board meeting. “Our initial market studies shows there’s a need for at least 180 units.”
Board members did not approve Forum’s bid Wednesday, even though the county issued a news release suggesting otherwise. Town Supervisor Harry Buffardi said the board will likely act during its next meeting in two weeks.
If approved as expected, the company would purchase the property and begin demolition as soon as approvals could be secured. Construction would begin on a one-story, 2,500-square-foot retail building with frontage on Curry Road that would be leased to Trustco Bank, the only business still operating in the site.
Sciocchetti said another 4,000-square-foot retail building would be constructed adjacent to Trustco. He envisions a professional office there.
The senior housing complex — two, three-story buildings with roughly 120,000 square feet — would be located behind the retail component of the project. Sciocchetti said an additional 2.5 acres would be kept as green space and could include nature trails — a stark contrast to the acres of pavement now on the site.
Forum is being joined in the project by Whitney Capital Company LLC, a business that has developed more than 5,000 multi-family housing units across the country. The Nassau County firm’s management affiliate, Whitney Management Corp, oversees a senior housing community in Saratoga Springs.
“Our firm is excited about working with Forum Industries, the town of Rotterdam and Schenectady County to bring new life to this site while also addressing the local need for senior rental housing,” Managing Director Tom Granville said in a statement released before the meeting Wednesday.
Forum’s plan very closely matches one it submitted to the town in 2009, when the company was given so-called preferred developers status. But several changes in the administration at Town Hall, a lengthy environmental study of the site and the dissolution of the Rotterdam Industrial Development Agency left the plan in limbo for nearly four years.
The Buffardi administration picked up the issue this summer, when the redevelopment of the shopping center was put out to bid. Columbia, a company that previously pulled a plan to redevelop the site, offered the town the most lucrative deal among the bids submitted.
Town officials seemed eager to accept the bid in August. But Columbia failed to close on several ancillary property deals it needed to move forward with its plan to build a neighborhood center-type development, forcing the company to ultimately scrap its idea for the property.
“They could not put the parcels together they needed for the project,” said Ray Gillen, the chairman of the county’s Metroplex Development Authority.
Town Board member Robert Godlewski questioned why the project wasn’t being put out to bid again, considering the town received other proposals that were more lucrative. Those proposals, however, were disqualified because they were either submitted late or to the wrong entity.
Paragon Prime Funding proposed purchasing the property for $1 million, but sent its bid to Metroplex. A representative indicated that the company had been instructed to submit the bid to the development authority and not the town.
“There’s a $600,000 difference between these proposals,” Godlewski said.