As much as Schenectady officials might want to see an old burned-out, water-damaged brick building on lower State Street revitalized as part of its efforts to restore the block, they should go slowly in granting the owner approvals for his new project while working with him to help find ways to pay for it.
James DeFalco, owner of the old Patton and Hall building on the 200 block of State Street, has big plans for turning the eyesore into a gym, health-food cafe and office space.
But about $135,000 in back taxes is owed on the property by DeFalco's company, which he conveniently placed into bankruptcy just as the city was ready to foreclose on it and reclaim it for development. The bankruptcy protection could delay renovations for months, making it difficult to attract other development to the block while the century-old building sits there in its present condition following a fire two years ago.
City officials are right to be skeptical about whether he can complete the latest plan and to be upset about the delays.
So what do to?
First off, planning officials should make their decisions regarding approvals strictly on whether a health facility and offices are appropriate uses for the building.
In the meantime, the city has no choice but to support and assist Mr. DeFalco any way it can to ensure he’s successful. That means cooperating with him on the renovation plans and helping him find ways to sustain the project financially in the long-term.
It's a shame for the city that this has gone on this long. But patience might pay off in the end.