There may be better uses for the old Grand Union on Hamburg Street in Rotterdam than a police headquarters and town court, but something’s better than the skeleton that’s haunted this retail shopping district since the supermarket there closed nearly 14 years ago.
And the plan that Highbridge Commercial Development envisions for the building would include Schenectady County’s centralized public safety dispatch center, bringing more workers to the area and an estimated $100,000 a year in rent.
Both of these aspects of the plan make it preferable to the lease arrangement being pitched by the Galesi Group to locate all three facilities on Westcott Road, in an area of town that has less to offer and wouldn’t benefit nearly as much from an influx of 150 workers per day that Hamburg Street would.
Ideally, some mixed-use tenancy — including retail and residential — would be found for the old supermarket; it would help rejuvenate the commercial strip and keep the building on the tax rolls. But that hasn’t happened since the building was abandoned in 1999, and it might not happen for several years more, particularly given the street’s lack of sewers.
Public safety and court employees may not be the most likely people to shop in the neighborhood, but they’ll have money in their pockets; they’re likely to have to eat; and if it’s convenient for them to make a shopping stop on their way to or from work, they’ll do so.
The location may not be as convenient for dispatchers situated elsewhere in the county who’ll have to move there, but it’s relatively near I-890 and not as far flung as others. The county has little time to look for alternatives, so this one deserves the nod. And the town police department and court long ago outgrew its home on Princetown Road. We agree with Hamburg Street businesspeople who say “now or never.”