The owner of the old Niskayuna Friendly’s building at ShopRite Square has filed an application to raze the structure and build a smaller restaurant with a drive-through.
Inland Mortgage Capital Corp. of Chicago, also known as IMCC St. James LLC, will be before the Niskayuna Planning Board on Monday seeking approval to tear down the structure and construct a 1,720-square-foot building. No tenant has been named for the space.
The building has been vacant since 2010 when Friendly’s closed its doors. The former St. James Square was becoming rundown until the ShopRite came to the plaza in 2011. More recently, a TCBY was added.
Art Rendak, president of Inland Mortgage Capital Corporation, said he could not say who the tenant is. He stressed it would not be a fast food restaurant, which the town does not want.
“It doesn’t mean a coffee shop couldn’t be there or a bank,” he said.
The new building will front Nott Street extension, where a section of rock is now. Inland Mortgage Capital Corp. owns most of the rest of the plaza besides ShopRite.
Town Board member Denise Murphy McGraw said the new building will be smaller than the roughly 4,000-square-foot Friendly’s building. This extra space will help alleviate the shortage of parking, according to Murphy McGraw. She said she can’t go a week without someone telling her that the parking problems are terrible at the plaza.
“We went from it being a ghost town to people can’t get a spot, especially now that TCBY is there,” she said.
TCBY, which is short for The Country’s Best Yogurt, has been a popular hangout for youth after school and even adults in the evenings, according to Murphy McGraw.
Supervisor Joe Landry said the removal of the building will help reconfigure the parking and traffic flow and provide better visibility for the other businesses in the plaza.
As the plaza is currently laid out, the Friendly’s building blocks the businesses from being seen from the road — hurting the property owner’s ability to attract new tenants, according to Landry.
“What I’m being told by Inland Mortgage is they have some conditional leases on demolishing the Friendly’s,” he said.
In addition, there would be an access lane connecting the two parts of the plaza.
The Zoning Board of Appeals approved the variance for the drive-through and now the demolition needs site review approval from the Planning Board. The Town Board must also grant a special use permit. The board is planning to set a public hearing for January and could approve the request at that time, Landry said.
Rendak hoped to demolish the building by the spring, if not sooner, and begin construction.
“Hopefully, the center will look a lot better in three to six months,” he said.