The former downtown Schenectady headquarters of MVP Health Care will finally see a new use as upscale apartments after standing vacant for more than a decade.
The four-story, 31,000-square-foot building at 111 Liberty St. has been on the market since MVP relocated to a larger building in 2002. On Wednesday, the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority announced a $3.6 million private investment to transform the building into 30 upscale apartments with a ground-floor fitness center.
Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said the demand for residential space downtown is on the rise. Much of the new residential space that’s been built in the past several years is almost fully leased, he said.
“We’re leasing as fast as we can build them,” Gillen said. “Residential is growing fast downtown. Retail is growing, too. The MVP building has been a very high priority for us to fill. It’s been vacant way too long.”
The most recent investment comes from Peter Luizzi and Saverio Minucci. Luizzi owns Peter Luizzi & Bros. Contracting, Inc., a family-run business that specializes in paving and site work construction on large-scale commercial, private and public works projects. Minucci is a local business owner, previously of Sandell Industries in Guilderland, who owns various apartments for investment purposes.
“Both Peter and I are excited to be working with Metroplex and Schenectady County to continue the revitalization of downtown,” said Minucci in a news release. “This building, which borders the Stockade, offers a great opportunity for new residential units in a part of downtown which is really gaining traction.”
The former MVP building is just one block from lower State Street. Parking for the building fronts lower State next to KFC and will be completely renovated with lighting and landscaping, Gillen said.
“It’s in very poor condition,” he said. “They are going to make it look great. Luizzi’s firm has done some of our parking lots, actually. They did the Broadway South parking lot. So he wants to make it match the quality of those.”
The plan is just another in a series of investments in the lower State Street area in the past few years. Metroplex wants to rehab the section of the city as it did the Proctors block farther up State Street. At its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, Metroplex approved a contract for $384,900 with Callanan Industries to repair vaults and other underground infrastructure in this section of the city. The work will occur this spring and will be followed by major upgrades that include new curbs, sidewalks, roads and plantings along lower State.
It’s an important area, Gillen said, as it connects the heart of downtown with the city’s historic Stockade neighborhood.
“People had to see that we were serious about crossing Erie Boulevard and transforming lower State Street,” he said.
The building at 111 Liberty St. almost sold in 2005 to a company that wanted to convert it into an office complex for small technology businesses, but the deal ultimately fell through. In 2006, a Florida company proposed building student dorms there for nearby Schenectady County Community College.
Kevin Phillips, of NAI Platform, helped complete the sale to Luizzi and Minucci. Metroplex will provide a $225,000 grant to help fund building renovations. All city approvals are in place, with work set to begin this summer.
“This project will be a great addition to our redevelopment efforts on lower State Street, breathing new life into a vacant building and bringing more people to our revitalized downtown,” said Schenectady County Legislature Chairman Tony Jasenski. “We thank Mr. Luizzi and Mr. Minucci for their investment and for working with our unified economic development team to create a new use for this building that will add to the vibrancy of the Stockade Historic District and Schenectady County.”