The Mechanicville-Stillwater Industrial Development Agency has unanimously approved a package of tax breaks to encourage construction of the Esplanade apartment project, Mechanicville’s largest new development in decades.
The planned site along the Hudson River at the city’s north end is being cleared, and with the tax incentives now in place, construction on the $55 million project is expected to start in the spring.
“I think it’s good for the city. It’s going to be a transformation for the city,” said Barbara Zecca Corsale, chairwoman of the IDA, which voted Wednesday.
The Esplanade, with 294 apartments and a cafe, would be located on 11 acres along routes 4 and 32. A small part of the project is across the city line in Stillwater. Six five-story buildings are planned. The site was once part of the West Virginia Pulp & Paper mill when that was a thriving industrial operation but has been owned most recently by Logistics One, a Saratoga Springs warehousing company.
City officials believe the apartments will appeal to employees of the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant a few miles away in Malta and to others moving to the region. That could bring new economic life to the small riverfront city, which is also benefitting from redevelopment of the railyard just over the city line in Halfmoon.
“Apartments that are right along the river fill up fast,” said Tom Richardson, the city’s representative on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors and a key figure in efforts over the last decade to revitalize the city.
“It’s going to be right across from the shopping center, and it’s going to be within walking distance of our downtown,” he said.
The Esplanade was originally proposed in 2009, and it received approval for 225 apartments plus retail space in 2011. Construction didn’t follow, however, and a revised plan submitted earlier this year dropped all the retail space except the cafe, but sought permission to build 69 additional apartments.
The change required the developers, Logistics One and Eastview Development of Webster, to get new zoning and IDA incentive approvals.
The developers said the IDA package is essential to the economics of getting the plan off the ground. Taxes will be limited to $25,000 in each of the first five years, but will eventually total $6.99 million over 20 years.
“Without an aggressive tax abatement program to offset the losses that will occur during the initial operating period, financing for the project will not be approved and Esplanade will not be built,” according to an economic analysis prepared by the developers.
Under the agreement, the developers would start paying more after the first five years, with the amount eventually rising to $725,000 in the 20th year. That money is shared among the city, town of Stillwater, the Mechanicville City School District and Saratoga County.
“It’s going to be good for our city, it’s going to be good for our merchants, it’s going to bring new people into the community,” Zecca Corsale said.