The city Planning Commission approved a retail building at the Mohawk Harbor site and single-family homes along Barrett Street during a meeting Wednesday evening.
The commission unanimously OK’d the Galesi Group’s proposal for a coffee shop and bank by the future Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor and a total of 25 single-family homes proposed by a group of local investors on Barrett Street and Seminary Place.
The coffee shop and bank would take up about 2,000 square feet each in the building and both have a drive-through. The building would have 35 total parking spaces including two handicapped spaces.
Paul Fallati, vice president of the Galesi Group, said the building would be situated on the corner of the roundabout in front of STS Steel. It would include a bike rack by the nearby bike trail.
The hours of operation for the coffee shop and bank are not yet known. They would probably hire four employees each. Specific tenants are unknown at this time.
The new building will not have an impact on traffic compared to the original study for the site, according to engineer Dan Hershberg of Hershberg & Hershberg in Albany. He said a majority of people would already be coming to the site for the casino or would live on the site.
Fallati said construction would start immediately on the one-story building.
Mary Ann Ruscitto, of East Front Street, said she doesn’t believe the building would have an impact on nearby Front Street. Hershberg said he believes a majority of people would take the roundabout to enter and exit the site.
The retail building is in addition to another 65,800-square-foot office and retail building planned on the other end of the site.
The 206-unit apartment building currently being built is expected to open next year. The 124-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel is anticipated to be done this fall. Galesi is also planning a 15-unit townhouse building on site.
The Rivers Casino is projected to open in March, followed six months later by a 163-room hotel.
The commission also approved the Live In Schenectady project pitched by a group of more than a dozen investors that will add 25 single-family homes on Barrett Street and Seminary Place where four blighted buildings and 15 vacant lots currently sit.
The first phase of the project, projected to cost $1.5 million, will build 10 homes and the second phase will erect another 15.
“They will have an Arts and Crafts feel and try to stay true to Schenectady’s heritage with entries off the street with stairs,” said architect JT Pollard of Re4orm Architecture. “We’ll have handicap accessible units to test that market as well.”
The houses will have five different designs, including lofts and two stories with one-, two- and three-bedroom options. They will include garages and greenspace.
“We’re testing the market on the number of bedrooms,” said Highbridge Development CEO John Roth, who is a partner on the project.
Commissioner Julia Stone questioned the market demand for homes as many people are opting to sell their homes and rent apartments, especially as several new apartment buildings are popping up in the city’s downtown and at Mohawk Harbor.
Commission Chairwoman Mary Moore Wallinger recused herself from voting on the project due to her independent work with one of the architects, M.J. Engineering. All other commissioners voted in favor.
Council President Leesa Perazzo spoke highly of the project at the meeting, noting that the group’s $200,000 purchase of the 19 properties from the city allowed the City Council to cut taxes by half a percent in this year’s budget.
Also, Stewart’s Shops was granted permission to expand its existing convenience store and gas station at 100 S. Brandywine Ave. The project includes expanding the building, demolishing another one on site and adding three fuel pumps. The store would be renovated to match the look of Stewart’s Shops’ newer locations.
Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, firstname.lastname@example.org or @HRViccaro on Twitter.