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What you need to know for 01/20/2017

Albany convention center plans scaled back

Albany convention center plans scaled back

The proposal for a convention center in Albany has been downsized into a much smaller project, board

The proposal for a convention center in Albany has been downsized into a much smaller project, board members said Monday.

The project, near the Times Union Center and Empire State Plaza, was originally to be 220,000 square feet. Now it’s proposed to be 82,000 square feet.

“So it’s much smaller, which is really catering to the times of smaller meetings,” said spokesman Gavin Donohue, chairman of the Albany Convention Center Authority. “I think this is right-sized.”

The smaller building would fit in the lot where the vacant Wellington Hotel and a parking lot stand now, Donohue said.

It would connect to the walkway between the TU Center and the Empire State Plaza, and visitors could park at the TU Center parking garage.

“That’s a benefit,” Donohue said.

But the biggest plus is that the organization has enough money for the scaled-down proposal.

“This is just within our existing budget,” he said.

It would cost $66.5 million to buy the land, build the center and outfit it with fixtures and equipment. Including a grant already in hand, the group has $69 million to spend, making the project just within its reach. That figure includes hotel tax revenue through 2016.

The project would create 150 to 175 construction jobs over a two-year period and an estimated 157 permanent jobs, Donohue said.

In a market analysis released Monday, the Albany Convention Center Authority predicted the center would earn $2 million in revenue in the first year and deliver $900,000 in taxes to the city, county and state.

Donohue stressed that the proposal wasn’t a definite yet.

“There’s a long way to go,” he said. “We haven’t gotten authority to build this yet.”

But the group is working hard to get city approval soon. The plan is to finish the environmental impact review by April, then go to the Planning Commission for site plan review in May while also buying the land.

The goal is to complete construction by July 2016.

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