A Schenectady developer is asking the city for approval to build a five-story development that would accommodate the growing demand for downtown office space and continue redevelopment of the city’s lower Broadway corridor.
Highbridge Development wants to build the 48,000-square-foot space on a 1.2-acre vacant lot just north of its headquarters at 376 Broadway. The new building would be a bigger version of the one next door — a three-story, 22,500-square-foot office building Highbridge completed in 2005.
“I think that Schenectady has a very strong office market,” said Highbridge CEO John Roth. “There’s not a lot available down here right now. But I think that with the current trends that are taking place down here and the revitalization of downtown, it’s becoming pretty attractive for office users to want to leave suburbia and move back down to cities. I think we’re poised and positioned to attract a lot of outlying businesses to move back into the city.”
Highbridge is asking the city Planning Commission to approve a site plan for the project at its Dec. 17 meeting.
The new development could cost about $6 million, Roth said, if you estimate that it would cost at least $125 a square foot to build. The plan right now, he said, is to get the site shovel-ready, market it to potential tenants and sign them up for the site before putting a shovel in the ground.
“I don’t have any tenants lined up for the building, but as soon as we do, we would start building,” he said. “It will butt right up to 376 Broadway.”
The 376 Broadway building is fully leased. Tenants include The Schenectady Foundation and Merriam Insurance Agency.
Office space in downtown Schenectady is currently in high demand, said Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen.
“We don’t have a lot of good, class A space available right now,” Gillen said. “Everything is pretty much filled.”
It’s unclear yet whether Metroplex will offer any financial incentives to Highbridge for the project. New Schenectady LLC, a related entity that Roth has an ownership interest in, received a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement on the building next door. Last year, it paid $78,689 to the city, county and school district under the agreement, which was negotiated to increase with each passing year until they reach full property value.
“We haven’t discussed any incentives with him at this point,” Gillen said.
Highbridge and its related entities are responsible for much of the new development along lower Broadway and in the Broadway Commerce Park over the last decade. When the developer moved downtown from its previous headquarters on Highbridge Road, near Route 7, it began buying up properties along the lower Broadway corridor and nearby streets and fixing them up.
Projects included a 3,500-square-foot office building at 330 Broadway for Technical Business Solutions, a 4,500-square-foot office building at 336 Broadway, a 4,000-square-foot training and office facility at 340 Broadway for Spectrum Environmental Associates, and a 6,000-square-foot office building at 388 Broadway for the Schenectady County Board of Elections.
“I think we’ve really changed this corridor significantly from where it was when we first moved down here,” Roth said.