The second phase of a residential-retail development in Schenectady will kick off this summer, despite ongoing concerns that the first phase caused drainage problems that forced a nearby business to shutter.
The final approvals were secured Wednesday for a $1.3 million, four-story development featuring ground-floor retail and 10 loft apartments at the corner of Union and Barrett streets. The Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority approved a $90,000 grant for facade and construction costs at its monthly board meeting Wednesday night.
Construction will begin this summer on the building, which is the second and final phase of a project by developers Christopher Maddalone and Charles Rosenstein to bring upscale housing and retail space to that area of lower Union Street.
“This project continues our successful efforts to redevelop lower Union Street while it also brings more residential and retail space on line in downtown Schenectady,” said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority. “We thank the developers for their ongoing investments in Schenectady County.”
Maddalone and Rosenstein have developed other residential projects in Albany and are also completing work on 11 new apartments at the former Spencer Business & Technical Institute at 200 State St. in Schenectady. In addition to a Metroplex grant, the new lofts on Union Street will be financed with the help of Kinderhook Bank.
They will be three stories tall and contain a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom units. About 2,370 square feet of retail space will be available for lease on the ground floor.
The Union Square project, which began at the end of 2011, hasn’t been without controversy.
It began with the demolition of several blighted buildings at that corner, followed by the construction of a three-story, eight-unit townhouse development facing Barrett Street.
Just as the second phase of the project was to go before the city Planning Commission for approval last summer, the owner of the Union Inn complained of flooding in its basement believed to be caused by the nearby construction of the townhomes.
The building housing the bar has stood there for more than 100 years without a problem, owner Joyce Fordham said, until last January, when the basement began filling with mud and water began spouting through the walls. Maddalone denied that construction of the townhomes had anything to do with her flooding problems, even after his insurer Harleysville Preferred Insurance Co. determined that, indeed, the work had caused the problem. To fix it, the insurer told him to install a catch basin to redirect water runoff that had increased with the change in topography, but he refused.
Maddalone did not return a call and email for comment Wednesday.
The Union Inn closed earlier this month as a result of the ongoing flooding, which Fordham said worsened with each heavy rainfall. She expressed concern that building more townhomes would only make the problem worse.
Still, the city signed off on Phase II last July after sending inspectors to examine the site and concluding it was a private dispute between two property owners.
The City of Schenectady Historic District Commission conducted an environmental review of the project back in 2010 and concluded it would have no significant effect on the environment.