The former Fireside Pizzeria, a once-popular Schenectady eatery on Eastern Parkway, could see new life if the city decides to sell the property to a local restaurateur.
The restaurant has sat vacant across from Price Chopper since 2011, when it abruptly closed after more than 30 years in business. Later that year, Robert J. Pace sold the property to Florida company Reoco LLC, which sold it to another Florida company, Inor I LLC, in December 2013, according to property records.
The city seized the property in foreclosure in August of this year. It owed $156,486 in back taxes.
Now, the city is considering selling the site to Clinton’s Ditch owner Tim Trier, said Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen.
Carl Falotico, deputy corporation counsel, said he couldn’t confirm the prospective buyer or a possible sale price, since the real estate transaction was to be discussed in executive session at the City Council’s committee meeting Tuesday night.
“All I can tell you is the City Council will be presented with a proposal tonight in executive session, and then they will consider terms of a sale,” he said.
The Fireside once bustled with locals from Schenectady and Niskayuna, who were fond of its hot chicken wing buffet and famous pizza, made daily with fresh dough. The 3,400-square-foot restaurant had a rustic vibe, with rough-hewn wooden paneling on the walls and ceilings and a crackling stone fireplace downstairs. The upstairs once featured a smoking bar.
Trier owns and operates the successful Clinton’s Ditch on South College Street, just off Erie Boulevard downtown. He did not return a call Tuesday.
He completed a $400,000 renovation of the long-vacant Mystic’s Tavern 10 years ago with the help of a $50,000 loan from Metroplex and $30,000 façade grant from the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. At the time, the entryway to the city’s historic Stockade neighborhood was undergoing several improvements.
When Clinton’s Ditch opened in the summer of 2005, Trier told the Daily Gazette: “One of the reasons I purchased it is because I knew the block would be done over.”
Eastern Avenue is in the early stages of revitalization itself these days. The corridor, which turns into Eastern Parkway near Price Chopper, has been targeted for a massive sprucing up, courtesy of Metroplex, the Schenectady Industrial Development Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the city’s land bank. A mix of funding from these agencies and a handful of private landowners will help demolish blighted properties and renovate others to make way for new development or simply green space.
In 2006, Trier announced plans to tear down an 1800s firehouse next door to Clinton’s Ditch and rebuild a replica in its place that would serve as an expansion of his restaurant/bar. The firehouse was demolished in 2007, but instead of rebuilding, Trier advertised parking at the site and placed Clinton’s Ditch up for sale for $1.2 million, sparking concerns from historic preservationists who feared he wouldn’t follow through on his plan to rebuild.
Finally, in 2012, the replica firehouse was built. Preservationists remained disappointed with it, however, calling it a “half-hearted imitation” of the firehouse.