The gaping hole at the corner of Union and Barrett streets has been a blight on the landscape since developer Chris Maddalone created it a few years ago. Perhaps it’s not as bad as the long-vacant building he knocked down before building the first phase of his project — eight townhouses along Barrett Street that are fairly nice-looking, save for a large blank wall on the edge facing Union Street. Ugh!
Maddalone has plans for a second phase — a four-story building with ground-floor retail and 10 apartments — and they’ve been approved by the Schenectady Planning Board. It looks like another decent-looking building, though quite different architecturally from the first.
Of larger concern than aesthetics, though, are what the second phase of the project will mean for drainage in the immediate vicinity.
The first phase created nightmares for Joyce Fordham, owner of the 147-year-old Union Inn, which lies just west of the vacant part of the parcel on Union Street. She claims to have never had an issue with flooding previously, but at one point early last year, observed a “waterfall of water” coming through the back wall of her basement, with mud destroying a furnace, a beer cooler and doing $100,000 worth of damage. She blamed the townhouse project, and even got its insurance company to side with her — agreeing to reimburse her for damages incurred before June 13 while warning Maddalone to address the problem or be stuck covering future damages on his own.
Fordham’s son says they’re still waiting for a check, that if one doesn’t arrive soon, they’ll probably have to close. In the meantime, he says, nothing has been done to address the drainage issue, and basement flooding remains a problem.
If true, one can only wonder what the Planning Board was thinking when it gave Maddalone, who won’t comment on the drainage issue, the green light for Phase II.