Schenectady County plans to relocate its Department of Motor Vehicles to make way for the expansion of the New York BizLab.
The BizLab, which serves as an incubator for start-up companies, operates out of space at 251 State St. and has agreed to purchase the existing DMV site at 267 State St. The DMV would then move to 2025 State St. sometime in 2017, pending completion of the site purchase. The Schenectady County Legislature discussed the proposal during its Monday night meeting and would still need to approve the plan officially at a future meeting.
John Woodward, the Schenectady County Clerk, and Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, elaborated on the reasoning for the move, saying the new space would allow for better customer experience. The current DMV site has flaws, including deferred maintenance that would be costly to address in the future, and a lack of parking, they said.
The DMV at 267 State St. has parking in the back of the building, but it is leased by the county. The agreement on the lease expires in 2020, which could create issues if the county is forced to pay more for the spaces or is unable to keep the spaces, Gillen said.
If the deal goes through, the county will be paying $600,000 for the property at 2025 State St. The cost would be covered by $250,000 from the sale of the existing space to the BizLab, and from savings of almost $30,000 per year related to costs of the parking lease. The county also hopes to boost its fee income from the DMV by relocating the office.
The proposed new site, which is a former International House of Pancakes in the Woodlawn neighborhood, sits on about an acre of land and features 60 parking spots, Gillen said. In addition, the existing building has a long and narrow layout, but the new space would be more conducive to operations and customer service, Gillen added.
The new site would require some improvements, including a new roof and upgrades to the interior. The estimated annual cost of the new facility is $55,000, according to the county’s commissioner of finance.
Legislators Brian McGarry and Jim Burhmaster expressed concerns regarding the price of the move and relocating the DMV out of the central downtown location to a spot that’s near the city’s border with Niskayuna. However, Gillen and Woodward said most residents using the DMV drive there anyway, and added that the former IHOP is near several car dealers, which could increase traffic.
The BizLab houses six tech companies, and was founded by Antonio Civitella, CEO of Transfinder, a logistics software company. The space is a Start-Up NY site, which means businesses housed there qualify for tax breaks.
Civitella said the expansion of the BizLab could be used to house new companies moving into the incubator, or to accommodate companies already located there that wish to expand.
Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels at 395-3113, [email protected] or @Brett_Samuels27 on Twitter.